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and foundation of the Haram, and the dif-
ficulty has been to place it in the Temple
area so that this crown of the mountain
shall not stand in the way of the pavements
and courts. In fact theorists have not
known where to place this uprising rock;
it stands in the way of every theory yet
proposed. It has ever been a mystery why
It was permitted to exist at all where the
rock was cut to suit a platform level and
foundation, and its existence is the standing
problem of to-day among Temple theorists —
much more so, in fact, than the site of the
Temple itself^ for its existence unsettles every
other problem, and makes any theory of the
site of the Temple an impossibility, which
• does not first settle the problem of its own
existence and site. It would seem at first
sight as if Solomon's plan would have neces-
sitated its removal in order to level down
the rock for the foundations of the pavements
and courts. Why, then, was it left ? Why
not cut down to the foundation or platform
level ? It stands so much in the way that
there is barely level space enough on which
to place the Temple pavements without an
immense filling in of earthy material, or else
of vaults and substructures, no matter where
you place the Temple Area. It could not
be placed anywhere without being upon a
slope of the mountain, or in a valley. The
rock in the north-east quarter of the Haram
is 162 feet below the crown of the rock; the
south-west quarter is 150 feet lower, and the
south-east quarter is 163 feet below the
Sacred Rock. This is a concise statement
of the problem to be solved.

The foregoing illustration of rival theo-
ries which now occupy the field will give,
better than any lengthened description, the
different arrangement of the Haiam Area
proposed by Dr. Porter (who agrees with
Dr. Robinson), Messrs. Williams, Lewin,
Fergusson, Wairen, and Beswick. The
plans will also give a definiteness to the
reader's conceptions which no mere words
can convey. Mr. Beswick's plans and dis-
coveries have never before been published,
and what we now make known is but a mere
outline of what he proposes to pubUsh in a
work on which he is now engaged.


The preceding statement will have pre-
pared the reader for a clear understan<mig
of the main difficulties in fixing u|K>n the
exact site of the Temple Area and its bound-
aries, and of the merits of the rival theories
which have been proposed as solutions of
this most interesting and hitherto most dif-
ficult problem in Jerusalem topography.

The discovery of this site was made hj
Mr. S. Beswick, C. E., of New York city,
who, afler makmg the subject of Jerusalem
topography a specialty for several years, at
length formed a conception of die exact site
of the Old Temple of Solomon and Herod.
To verify that conception, he visited the
Haram for the purpose of making a recon-
naissance survey and fixing upon two sites :
ist. A base line of verification which evay-
body would admit, fi-om which ofl&ets or
perpendicular distances could be made to
the given stations; 2d. A central station,
fiom which a standard ofi&et could be made,
and conveniently joined to the base of veri-
fication, such central station to be a natural
formation, and not a work of art; all other
sites and distances to be determined bj

The two standard sites were satis&ctorOj
determined by that reconnaissance. The
western wall of the Haram ash Shdrif, or so
much of it as was left standing by Titus
when Jerusalem was destroyed, was selected
as the base of verification ; the Sakhra was
taken as the central station, and the line
which joined the two together was the first
standard ofi&et by whidb all others were
determined. The sides of the Court of
Gentiles (Herod's Court), Court of Israel,
and Coiut of the Priests, and even of the
Holy House itself, were then taken and
treated as a series of ofi^ts and perpen-
diculars, and referred to the western wail as
the base line for their verification as to
length and breadth. The Sakhra was in
fact a central station to the whole Temple

These two things — the western wall, which
he selected for his base line of verification,
and the Sakhra, firom which the first stand-
ard oQstX, was drawn — are all that is left by
the vandals under Titus of the original
foundations and superstructure resting there-
on. The eminent success which has resulted
from this judicious selection, and the prac-
tical foresight which led to their adoption,
will directly influence Palestine exploration
in the Holy City for many years to come. .

Digitized by




Mr. Beswick quietly visited the Haram
with a working plan of his own making,
which showed what had been done, and
what had been left undone ; what to do, and
where to go and do it ; what to discover,
and where to find it He had reason, there-
fore, to hope for the very best results fi-om
his reconnaissance survey. The elaborate
measurements which form the basis of his
verifications, and upon which his identifica-
tions of so many sites are grounded, are so
numerous, varied, and fiiU of detail, and
applied to so many places and sites, that no
amount of reading, or investigation at a dis-
tance, could ever have afforded the oppor-
tunity to develop so completely as he
has done, a discovery which has seemed
hitherto involved in inexplicable mystery.
He has, however, completed the proof which
fixes the site of the Temple in the Haram,
and makes the Sakhra the absolute central
spat of the Old Temple Area. And the
proof is so simple that any one can verify
it for himsel£ The standard of&et, or funda-
mental measurement which fixes this site of
the Temple, places the Sakhra at a distance
of 250 cubits — 369.26 ft. — from the west-
em wall of the Inclosure, regarded as a
base of verification. It will introduce a
central fact to the attention of the civilized
world ; and there can be but one opinion as
to its value and significance, and the revo-
lution which its revelations will make in the
fidd of Jerusalem topography.


The distance of the apex of the Sakhra
from the western wall as a base of verifica-
tion is a fundamental measurement, and a
leading test of the discovery claimed ; and
it is the most simple and satisfactory verifi-
cation of the exact site of the Temple. If
this distance or standard ofi&et be admitted,
then the Sakhra, or Sacred Rock, was sim-
ply a Central Core to the whole Temple
Area, around which all the pavements and
courts were built up, and to which they were
^stmed and imited as one solid mass. The
whole platform of pavements taking hold
of die Sakhra as a Central Core, solid and
immovable, according to the following Di-
vine command that they should place the
Temple Area around this rock as a center :

"This is the law of the house. Upon the top
[Hebrew rosk — head, summit, vertex, apex, or tip-
top] of the mountain, the whoie limit thereof round
akmt shall be most holy. Behold, this is the law
«f die house.'*— Esek. xliiL, 12.

Now the whole limit of the Sakhria round
about would be as follows: On the north
the mountain was limited by the valley lying
between the Bezetha hill and the Temple
Area ; on the east it was Hmited by the Ked-
ron valley; on the south by the Hinnom
and Kedron ravines; and on the west by
the Tyropoeon ravine. Thus the "whole
hmit thereof round about " was well defined
by ravines; and on all these sides the ex-
treme limit had to be built up to the requir-
ed level of the platform of the outer court
Josephus gives a similar description :

** The hill was encompassed with a wall tmmnJ
the top 0/ it. Joined together as a part of the hill
itself to the very top of it. On the ver^ top of all
ran another wall. In the midst of whteh was the
Temple itself. "—"Jew. Antiq." xv., 11,3.

This Law of the House is a Divine com-
mand which fixes definitely the exact site of
the Temple Area to be "the whole limit
round about the top of the mountain." And
this is the only passage where the site is
ever definitely named. And, what is most
remarkable, this notable passage has never
been noticed by any one of the numerous
explorers of Jerusalem. Yet, from this
supreme stand-point, Mr. Beswick has stud-
ied the whole subject de novo. He foresaw
that the Old Rock of Moriah had a special
place in the Temple; that it acted as a
Central Core, and carried upon its shoulders
all the Temple pavements and courts, and
upon its head (" upon the top of the mount-
ain ") rested as a crown the Temple itsel£
His discovery solved a problem, which has
resisted every other attempt at solution:
that the special place of the Old Rock in
the Temple Area has been the cause of its
preservation, and which, when determined,
would enable the discoverer to setde all
other questions of a topographical and
numerical nature in relation to distance,
area, and boundary. We will cite the Bib-
lical evidence upon which his measurements
of the Temple Area are based.


The oudine structure of the Area was as
follows. It consisted of two main platforms,
or courts, and two ranges of steps or
ascents. The first platform was the Court
of Israel, and the second was the Court of
Priests. In reality, the uppermost platform
was divided into two equsd halves. On the
western half was placed the Temple itself
and surroundings, and the eastern half in
front was strictly called the Court of Priests,

Digitized by




with the Altar of burnt-offering in the cen-
ter. The first range of seven steps led up
to the Court of Israel, and the second
range of eight steps led up to the Court of
Priests. Each range of steps was 50 cubits
from top to bottom, and the level platform
between the two ranges was also 50 cubits
wide all round the area. The two ranges
of steps, also, went round the whole of the
four sides of the quadrangular Courts. —
Ezekiel xl.

East Porch of steps 50 cubits, v. 15.

North " *« 50 " V. 21.

South " " 50 " V. 25.

Inner and upper range of steps : •

South Porch of steps . 50 cubits, v. 29.

East ** «* 50 " V. 33.

North " " , 50 « V. 3b.

Outer gate to inner gate ;

Eastern entrance 100 cubits, v. 19.

Northern " 100 " v. 23.

Southern ** 100 *« v. 27.

From these measures it is evident that
from the outer wall to the edge of the
uppermost platform or court there was a
distance of 50+50+50=150 cubits all
around the Temple Area, on every side:
the intervening platform, or level between
the two ranges of steps, being only 50 cubits,
forming the Court of Israel. The upper
pavement was 200 cubits wide, and the
western half of 100 cubits was covered by
the House or Temple and its surroundings.

"So he measured the court [of the House or
Temple] 100 cubits long and 100 cubits broad, four-
square : and the altar that was before the house." —
Ezek. xl., 47; see also xli., 13, 14.

The breadth of the House was 100 cubits,
or half the width of the pavement or plat-
form. On either side of the House were
chambers, each story being 50 cubits wide
in fi*ont. — Ezek. xliii.

The breadth was 50 cubits, v. 2.
The forefront was 50 cubits, v. 7.
Tlie breadth was 50 cubits, v. 8.
South side like the north, v. 1 1.

Thus, the width of the upper platform was
50+100+50=200 cubits. We can now
obtain the total width of the Temple Area :
150+ 200+ 150=500 cubits, fi-om outer wall
to outer wall. But, if the platform or Court
of Isiael be taken as the limit — not including
the steps or ascent — ^its width would be
100+200 + 100=400 cubits only. This is
what Josephus means when he says :

" The hill was walled all round and in compass
four furlong^ [or 1,600 cubits], each anele contain-
ing in length a furlong [or 400 cubits]."— "Antiq."
XV., 11,3.

This esrimate merely includes the wall
built up to the edge of the platform ot
Court, and does not include the width of
space for the range of steps forming the
ascent, which added another 50 cubits on
each side, making the total width 500 cubits
from eastern outer wall of inclosure to west-
em outer wall. The actual center of Uib
Area was at the middle of the litde gate-
way in front of the steps leading to the
Grand Porch of the Temple, or between tbe
forefront of the two brazen pillars, JaxJiin
and Boaz. The distance fit)m this position
to the outer inclosure wall on any side w:as
25ocubits=369.26i22 ft., or half the diam-
eter of the Temple Area.

Now, when Mr. Beswick measured the
distance of the Apex of the Sakhra, as now
found in the Mosque of Omar, from the
western wall of the Haram as a base of
verification, he found it exactly 250 cubits
=369 ft. 3.13 inches, which is the identical
distance, given in the Bible, of the central
spot in the Temple Area from its western
side. This is the leading test and the sim-
plest, because it admits of direct verification
by any one who will take the trouble. And
it is only one out of a hundred tests, all
depending upon the same base of verifica-
tion, and placed beyond dispute by making
it purely a num^cal proof independent of
all theory.


Mr. Beswick's leading test is the distance
of the Old Rock as a central station from
the west wall of the Haram as a base line
of verification. The gate to the Porch of
Solomon's Temple was 250 cubits=369.26
ft. from the western wall ; and this was the
Central Spot in the Old Temple Area, Mr.
Beswick measured the distance of the Sakhra
from the westem wall to see how far it could
be identified with " the top of the mountain *'
where Ezekiel (chap, xliii., 12) said the
Temple and its Area were placed, and which
is given as the Law of the House as to its
site. The principal entrance to the Kubbat
as Sakhra is on the west side through a
deserted Bazaar. He measured the distance
from the gate-way, Bab el Katinin, to tlie
steps of the platform, and found it 102
cubits= 1 50.658 ft; from bottom of steps
to outer side of Bab al Gharby Gate, 78 cubits
=115.21 ft.; from thence to outer side of
the Mosque wall, or to the side-post of door-
way, 6 cubits=8.86227 ft. ; thickness of wall,
4 cubits=5.9 ft. ; inside fece of wall to the

Digitized by




western vertical edge of the Sakhra, 45
cubits=66.467 ft.; thence to the proper
ftont of the rock, 15 cubits=22.i557 ft;
total distance from Gate-way of the Bath, or
western wall, to the proper vertex or apex of
the Sakhra, 250 cubits=369.26 ft. This is
exactly the distance of the central spot in
the Old Solomonic Temple Area from the
western wall, and from any one of the four
sides of the Court of Israel in the days of
King Solomon. And this leading test proves
that the top of the mountain in Solomon's
day, and the modem Sakhra now in the Dome
of the Rock of Jerusalem, occupied the
same, identical pk)sition as a central station,
and are at the same distance from the west-
em wall — ^the measurement being absolutely
identical, 250 cubits=369.26 ft.

Stgtiatu. CmHit, Fett

•G «5 « 125.54881

•H ns « 199.40105

•I i»5 -= 273-95330

•K 235 -347.10554

•F 15 = 22.15567

•A 45 -= 66.46702

*B "5 = 169.86016

*C 165 «s 243.71240

•D 215 -317.56465

•E 265 -= 391.41689

FP 100 =» 147. 70449

PR 50 =- 73.85324

RS 50 — 73.85324

ST 50 = 73.85324

FL 100 — 147.70449

LM 50 = 73.85324

MX 50 - 73.85324

NO 50 - 73.85324

TO 500 - 738.5324

PL 200 = 295.40897

BG 200 ss 295.40897

SN 400 = 590.81795

DI 400 == 590.81795

TO 500 = 738.5324

EK 500 = 738.5324

PE 250 — 369.26122

FK 250 — 369.26122

MR 300 « 443.11346

VW 300 — 443.11346

VU 300 — 44i[.ii346

iiv 500 - 738.5324

j in 500 » 738.5324

xG 130 — 192.01584

i ^ 50 = 73.85324

HI 50 - 73.85324

IK 50 — 73.85324

: ^ 70 — 103.393H

I ^ 50- 73.85324

■ ^ 50 = 73.85324

; DE .JO - 73.85324

EK 500 738.5324

Stations. Cubits. Feet

xF 30 — 44.31134

FG 100 « 147.70449

bd 100 = 147.70449

ah 100 — 147.70149

bF 75 « 110.77836

Fa 75 = 110.77836

Fo 65 == 96.00791

Ko 185 -273.95330 *

XA 20 a 29.^4089

AF 50 « 73.85324

cf 50 — 73.85324

gl 50 — 73.85324

As the entire width of the Temple Area
in Solomon's day was 500 cubits, its half
would be 250 cubits, which would be the
distance of the center where the easterly
fa9ade of the pillars and porch stood. The
Moslem Rock, Sakhra, is at precisely the
same distance, 250 cubits from the western
wall; so that die center of the Tenple
Courts and the Old Rock, Sakhra, occupy
precisely the same site. All horizontal dis-
tances are made parallel with the base line
formed by the western wall of the Haram
Inclosure, and all perpendicular distances
from this base line are made parallel with the
standard line drawn from the Sakhra perpen-
dicular to the western waU. The western
wall is Mr. Beswick's base line, by which the
length of all east and west walls are meas-
ured; and the line joining the Old Rock
with this base is his first standard ofi&et by
which all north and south sides of the pave-
ments and courts are measured. And if all
other measurements agree >vith this location
of the base line, and of the Old Rock as a
central station, the demonstration of this
identity of site is certain and complete.
And such is the actual fact. Mr. Beswick
has tested every measurement on the spot ;
evidences of the pavements having extended
to given distances from the Sakhra are to be
found on all four sides of the Haram. His
leading test is therefore complete. The
Temple Area in Solomon's day was a quad-
rangle, whose four sides were each 500
cubits in length, outside measure; but the
pavement or court without the ascending
steps was only 400 cubits in width. The
Sakhra was the central core of the whole
Temple Area, of the upper quadrangular
pavement, and of every other quadrangular
pavement beneath it. It was 100 cubits
from each of the four sides of the upper
pavement, 200 cubits from the sides of the
lower pavement, and 250 cubits fit>m the
Inclosure Wall. And all these measures
accord with the levels, scarpings, and con-
tour plan of the whole rocky surface as it is
now seen in the Haram. If all the platforms

Digitized by




and courts of the Temple could be taken
together and placed upon the rocky surface
of the Haram as one entire whole, it would
fit upon that rocky surface as upon a mold.
The rocky contour is simply the bare out-
line or foundation plan of the Temple pave-
ments or courts.

The first level of 2,423.38 ft (above the Med-
iterranean), on which the mosque platform
rests^ was the level of that grand ascent of
steps outside of the Courts of Solomon's Tem-
ple, which the Queen of Sheba so much ad-
mired. It was the entrance level to the Court
of Israel. The second level, on which the



The surface of the Sacred Rock Moriah
bears the marks of rough chiseling, and of
having been cut down to suit a given level
which has once covered it with either wood
or stone. Captain Wilson, of the Royal
Ordnance Survey, says of the Sakhra : " The
sur&ce of the rode bears the marks of hard
treatment and rough chiseling. On the
western side it is cut down in three steps,
and on the northern side in an irregular
shape, the object of which could not be
discovered." The first vertical cutting is
1.8463 ft, then a sudden slope of 1.969 ft,
and another vertical cutting of 5.4158 ft.
The step formed by this last cutting forms
the basement of rock upon which the mosaic
floor of the mosque rests. This slope and cut-
ting are equal to 1.9694+54158=7.3852 ft

marble pavement of the mosque itself rests
(2,430.647 fl.), was the level of the pavement
or uppermost level of the Court of Israel;
and the third level, or highest vertical step on
the apex of the Sakhra (2,438.1535 ft) below
the doped cutting of 1.9694 ft., was the
level of the upper pavement or Court of
Priests in Solomon's Temple. The marble
pavement of the mosque, according to Mr.
Beswick's measurement, is 4.8 ft. lower than
the apex of the rock, with a level of 2,435.-
1996 ft. above the Mediterranean Sea, The
rock underneath has a level of 2430.7683
ft., and the marble pavement was found by
measurement to be 3 cubits (4.431 1 ft.) deep.
The vertical cutting of the rock is about one
ft. (0.9847 ft.) greater than the depth of
pavement, so that the slope and cutting are
7.3852 ft. The sheik of the mosque said
that the Moslems have a tradition that the
Sakhra hangs in the air 7 ft above the gen-

Digitized by




lal level of the Sanctuary; so the Moslem
tfoatics turn the fac;^ to good account, tliat
Jhe rocky level under the mosque pavement
iA exactly 7.3852 ft. higher than the general
level of the Haram near the platform. ,

the head of which has the same level as the
Court of Gentiles. The rock, in fact, has
been cut down and sloped all around the
Sakhra as a Central Core to the shape
and levels of the pavements or courts. A


The top of the Sakhra has a level of 2,440
ft. Its ivestem side has evidently been cut
down into three steps at the successive
depths of 1.8463, 7.3852, and 22.1556 ft.;
OT to the three successive levels 2,408.612,
2,430.768, and 2,438.1535 ft, corresponding
with the levels of the three courts or plat-
forms. TVi^ first stepping was the general level
of the Temple Area outside of the courts,
which afterward became the level of the
Gentile Court The second stepping was the
level of the Court of Israel. The third and
^nghest stepping was the level of the Coiut
of Priests, on which the Temple itself stood.
The three vertical cuttings of this apex of
the Old Rock correspond to the successive
heists of these three courts or platforms,
the total height being 1.846-1-7.385 + 22.-
155=31.388 ft., which is the height of the
apex above the general level of the rock
around the outer sides of the Haram Inclos-
ore (or 2,440 — 2,408.612=31.388 ft.). This
remarkable fact cannot be mere coinci-
dence. In short, the rock all around is cut
tnd scarped and sloped down as if to a pat-
tern, and made to take the general shape
of the Temple Area, having its sudden
slopes exacdy where the steps and ascents
to the two courts were, and now are found at
exactly the same distances from the Sakhra
as a central spot or station. The oudine of
the whole Rocky Area is the same as the
general outline of the whole Temple Area,
platform with platform, and slopes with ranges
of steps, as shown in the above diagram.

From the Sakhra to the south-west angle
of the Haram there is a dip of 140 ft; to
the south-east angle 160 ft.; to the north-
east angle a dip of 120 ft. The ridge of the
Sakhra slopes to the Triple Gate in the
south wall 60 ft. in 400, or one in 6.5 ft.
To the north it slopes to a natural valley.

contoiur has been given to it, with levels to
fit and agree with the height and levels of
the Temple Area. These are the results
of a careftil and systematic survey, and the
contour maps of the Palestine Ordnance
Survey confirm these results. Around
the Sakhra the rock slopes away graduaUy
on every side. On the north-west the rock
has a fall of about 20 ft. in 600; on the
north a fall of 20 ft. in 400 ; on the east a
fall of 40 ft. in 400 ; and on the south a fall
of 30 ft. in 600. There is no other in the
Haram, nor on the ridge of the spur of
Moriah, where so much labor would be
saved in the erection of such a Temple
Area as round about this pinnacle and
crown of the mountain.


2438- 15357

CuhiU Fnt
Nave and floor of porch . 5«i 7.38522

Upper pavement 5a 7.38522 .

Lower " 5aB 7.38522

Lower ** Bottom of

7 steps, top of grand

ascent or ramj^steps . . io« 14. 77045 . .
Level of Court of Gentiles 20^29. 54089 . .
Level of substructure floor,

double gate, triple gate,

etc 2379.07179

The grand ascent (alath) or ramp-steps
by which the Jews went up to the Temple
Courts in Solomon's day was a ramp or
stepped sidewalk all around the outer wall

Online LibraryFrancis HallThe Century, Volume 11 → online text (page 44 of 163)