There is an ongoing debate in the popular archaeological media about the location of the Temple of God in Jerusalem1. While it is generally accepted by leading scholars that the Temple stood on what is known today as the Temple Mount, the City of David to the south has been suggested as an alternative location.

This alternative site was promoted by the late Dr Ernest Martin and more recently by Marilyn Sams and others. As a graduate of Ambassador College, and a minister in the Worldwide Church of God, Dr Martin seems to have brought a theological bias to his interpretation of the evidence.2

The discovery, however, of an ancient rubbish dump on the eastern slope of the City of David a few years ago, makes it unlikely that the Temple was located in the City of David.3 Discovered by Israeli archaeologists in 2013–2014, the rubbish dump dates back at least two thousand years and has created a landfill some seventy metres high.4 It extends from the bottom of the Kidron Valley to the walls of the ancient city and the remains discovered suggest that the rubbish was efficiently collected, stacked and buried.

It is unlikely therefore that the Temple stood on the western side of the Kidron Valley above the Gihon Spring as landfill from the rubbish dump occupies the very space where it is suggested the Temple would have been built. Moreover, there is no evidence of a gap in the landfill to accommodate such a large structure like the Temple.

Meanwhile, a clay seal dating back 2700 years has been discovered with the Hebrew inscription “governor of the city” during excavations by the Israel Antiquities Authority in the Western Wall Plaza in Jerusalem. Two governors of Jerusalem are named in the Bible and this find verifies that the office existed in ancient Israel, said archaeologist Dr Shlomit Weksler-Bdolah.5 She also said that this is the first time that a seal of this nature has been found in an authorized dig, which enables more accurate dating of the object.

According to scholars who have examined the find, the seal depicts two figures facing each other with an inscription in ancient Hebrew script below reading: “belonging to the governor of the city”. It is believed that the seal would have been attached to some type of important shipment sent by the governor of Jerusalem.

Both the governors of Jerusalem named in the Bible, Joshua (2 King 23:8) and Maaseiah (2 Chron 34:8), held the position during the reign of King Josiah. The current mayor of Jerusalem, Nir Barkat, said that the find provides strong evidence of the Jewish presence in the city from earliest times.

The discovery also shows that the Bible accurately records even minor historical details, and faithfully reflects the ordinary activities of daily life in ancient times. We can, then, place full confidence in the facts recorded in the Bible, for again it has been shown to be a reliable historical narrative.

References:

  1. Leen Ritmeyer, “Not wailing at the wrong Western Wall of the Temple Mount”, Ritmeyer Archaeological Design, 17 November, 2015 [Online] https://www.ritmeyer. com/2015/11/17/not-wailing-at-the-wrong-western-wall-of-the-temple-mount/
  2. Ibid. See readers’ comments and https://en.wikipedia. org/wiki/Ernest_L._Martin. Worldwide Church of God beliefs include British-Israel theory, thus for them the modern State of Israel has no part in God’s purpose.
  3. Leen Ritmeyer, “How garbage disposes of the idea that the Temple once stood over the Gihon Spring”, Ritmeyer Archaeological Design, December 29, 2017 [Online] https://www.ritmeyer.com/2017/12/29/jerusalems-garbage/#more-282
  4. Ariel David, “Ancient Romans, Jews Invented Trash Collection, Archaeology of Jerusalem Hints”, Haaretz, 29 June, 2016 [Online] https://www.haaretz.com/ archaeology/.premium-ancient-romans-jews-invented-trash-collection-1.5402478
  5. Daniel K, Eisenbud, “Seal from First Temple Period found at Kotel supports biblical accounts”, The Jerusalem Post, 9 January, 2018 [Online] http://www.jpost.com/Israel-News/Seal-from-First-Temple-Period-found-at-kotel-supports-Biblical-accounts-522533