Jerusalem, the city of Peace, is today anything but that. It is the center of
the most intractable struggle between peoples and religions in the world today.
The city which is the home to the three great monotheistic religions, is divided
as perhaps never before. At the center of the dispute is the ownership of the
site on which the Temple of Solomon was built. The
holiest place to the Jewish people.
It has generally been assumed that the location of this site coincided with
the site of "The Dome of the Rock" which is the third holiest site in Islam.
However there are at least four other theories as to its location, three on the
Temple Mount itself (but not in the position of the Dome) and one away from the
If there has been a mistake and Solomon's Temple was never built on the
Temple Mount then there is at last a possibility that the intractable problem
between Palestinians and Israelis could be solved. It surely is worth the time
and effort to analyze the evidence to see if there is anything to these
alternative theories. If it can be shown that Solomon's Temple was not built on
the site that is now known as the Temple Mount then there would be no reason for
the Israelis not to hand that area over to the Palestinians as a capital for
their soon to be announced independent state. If Solomon's Temple was however
built on the site of the present day Dome of the Rock, then we can look forward
to only an endless series of crises between Israel and Palestine. Orthodox Jews
will wait for the day that they can rebuild their "Third Temple" on that site
and that is a prescription for war.
For those who have been to Jerusalem or who have read details of the modern
city, it is very difficult to envision how it might have been at the time it was
destroyed by the Romans in 70 AD, or even when first built by David. What
Josephus said about the destruction can be found in our library under "Temple".
The etching done in 1844 is a striking contrast to any aerial photograph of
today with the area known as "The City of David" south of "The Temple Mount"
totally barren as described by Josephus some 1800 years earlier. That Temple
Mount which is the very large oblong area dominating the site is surrounded by
literally thousands of original Herodian blocks of stone. But the gospels imply
and Josephus explicitly states that NO block of stone was left standing in
Jerusalem and the Temple after the Roman assault. Were they in fact mistaken or
could "Jerusalem" have been in a different location at the time Josephus lived
and the gospels were written. It would seem far-fetched, but let us review the
THE MILLO AND THE AKRA
9 So David lived in the fortress, and called it the city of David. And
David built around from the Millo inward. 2 Samuel 5:9.
33 Then they fortified the city of David with a great strong wall and
towers, and it became their citadel. 1 Maccabees 1:33
There have been two fortresses, the locations of which have puzzled Biblical
scholars for years. Where exactly was David's Millo and the later the Akra which
were closely associated with the "City of David". They were naturally considered
different structures and everyone has looked in different places for each of the
What is even more puzzling is the fact that they ignored the Greek version of
the above text in the Septuagint. For plain to see is that version's translation
of "Millo" =AKRA! It is a truism of history. Fortress and Temples and Palaces
were built on strategic sites and they remained strategic throughout history. If
David had found a stronghold in his time, it is natural that its location would
remain strategic throughout history. And so it was. What was earlier known as
Millo later became the Akra.
(As a brief aside, a very few have criticized my identification of the ruin
on top of the heights at Djaharya as being Egyptian. They have suggested that it
might be later even though it is built into the bed-rock at the top of the hill.
They would have it later than the 2nd temple period even though there are well
attested 2nd temple buildings LOWER down the slope. Without going into the other
factors which show that it must be Egyptian, it is clear that the first
inhabitants would build on the most strategic position, i.e. the top of the hill
If one were a military leader at the time of King David and viewed the
topography of the land, there would be one and only one place to build a
fortress to protect his new "home". Examine the etching of Jerusalem above and
you will see that if the area south of the rectangle was the "City of David" and
the only source of water was from the Gihon Spring which is on the East side of
that area, the place to build the fortress was in the extreme south surrounded
on three sides by valleys. This would be even truer if there was an additional
height on that area. The descriptions of Josephus and verses in the Book of
Maccabees show that to be a fact.
"But the other hill, which was called "Acra," and sustains the lower city,
is of the shape of a moon when she is horned; over against this there was a
third hill, but naturally lower than Acra, and parted formerly from the other by
a broad valley. However, in those times when the Asamoneans reigned, they filled
up that valley with earth, and had a mind to join the city to the temple. They
then took off part of the height of Acra, and reduced it to be of less elevation
than it was before, that the temple might be superior to it. Now the Valley of
the Cheesemongers, as it was called, and was that which we told you before
distinguished the hill of the upper city from that of the lower, extended as far
as Siloam; for that is the name of a fountain which hath sweet water in it, and
this in great plenty also. But on the outsides, these hills are surrounded by
deep valleys, and by reason of the precipices to them belonging on both sides
they are every where unpassable. Josephus Wars: Book 5 Ch:4: 1
The valley of the Cheesemongers is the Tyropean Valley which divides the two
mountain ranges in the etching. Thus the Western Hill was the site of the "Upper
City" and the Eastern Hill, that of the "Lower City", the City of David.
We can now see exactly what Josephus was writing about when he referred to
three hills. The Eastern Mountain actually had two summits (hills) , north and
south separated by a broad valley. In the North was the Ophel (the third hill)
and in the South, the Akra (the second hill). The two were at one time divided
by a broad valley (the location of the City of David) the north end of which was
filled in and leveled by the time of Josephus. That and the cutting down of the
Akra hill which occupied the citizens of Jerusalem working day and night all of
three years to accomplish produced an area very similar to what is seen in the
etching on its right side.
Some researchers have attempted to find the shape of a horned moon in the
topography of the Eastern Mountain. However that is a complete misreading of
Josephus who states that it was Akra that was moon shaped. It was Simon
Maccabeus who ordered the cutting down of that hill and hence no moon shape is
visible today. The Akra which "sustained" the City of David and posed a threat
to it at the same time was leveled once and for all.
Next week we shall discuss how the above is relevant to the real location of
Michael S. Sanders
Irvine CA. May 20, 2000