The Treasury of the Temple in Jerusalem

A unique feature of our new guide book to the Temple Mount are two plans, one of the present-day Temple Mount and a corresponding map of the area in the first century, on which all the New Testament links are indicated. Comparing these two plans allows the visitor (or armchair traveler) to follow in the footsteps of Jesus and his disciples around the Temple.

This post also contains new images that have recently been added to our Image Library. Clicking on each of the watermarked images enables you to download a Powerpoint size copy (without the watermark, of course) for a small fee.

Most of the activities recorded in the New Testament took place in the Treasury, also known as the Court of the Women. When, for example, we read that Jesus taught in the Temple (Matthew 21.23; John 7.14,28; 8.2,20), he did not enter the Sanctuary itself because, as a non-Levite, he would not have been allowed inside this beautiful building which was reserved for priests only.

The Treasury was a court that was located to the east of the Temple itself, just below the Nicanor Gate.

This paved area looking out at the Mount of Olives was the place where the Treasury was located. It is an excellent place to meditate on the many events described in the New Testament that took place here.

This court is also called the Court of the Women, as that is as far as women were allowed to enter the Temple courts. It was in this court that the Presentation of Jesus and the meeting with Simeon and Anna the Prophetess (Luke 2.25–38) took place.

A view of the large Court of the Women, also known as the Treasury in the Gospels. This court was as far as women were allowed to proceed into the Temple. Four high towers, two of which we see here in this model, each carried four golden lamps which were lit during the Feast of Tabernacles. Jesus may have referred to these lights in John 8.12.

In this reconstruction drawing, we see the Temple, viewed from the east. It was surrounded by a court, called the Temple Court or azarah in Hebrew. In front of the Temple stood the Altar, the Laver (Basin) and the pillars and tables that were used in the preparation of sacrifices. Several gates and other buildings stood to the north and south of the Temple.
To the east of the Temple stood the Court of the Women (centre front). The Nicanor Gate stood in front of Herod’s Temple. It gave access to the Temple Courts from the Court of the Women.

In Luke 21.1-4 it is recorded that Jesus contrasted the gifts that the rich people gave with the two mites (Greek: lepta, singular: lepton) of the widow. How did he know that this widow had cast in two little coins? Thirteen wooden boxes with trumpet-shaped bronze funnels to guide the coins into the box were placed under the colonnades of the Court of the Women. This area was the actual Treasury. The sound these coins made against the metal would have indicated how much people offered to the Temple.

Two of the thirteen trumpet-shaped receptacles for monetary offerings placed under the colonnades that encircled the Court of the Women of Herod’s Temple Mount.

Another place shown on these maps of New Testament links in the guide book is the location of the Altar, which we commented on in a previous post. During the Feast of Tabernacles, a water-libation ceremony took place every evening, that was watched by many people standing in this Court of the Women.  When the water that was drawn from the Siloam Pool in a golden vessel was poured out on the Altar, Jesus said: “If any man thirst, let him come unto me and drink”, pointing out that faith in him was foreshadowed by this ceremony (John 7.37-38).

After drawing water from the Pool of Siloam, a priest and his procession would return to the Temple Mount, crossing the courts and heading for the Water Gate. The priest would then be greeted by three trumpet blasts on his way to the Altar to complete the water libation ceremony.

Associated with the Feast of Tabernacles was a daily ceremonial of water-drawing. The priest (on the left) who carried the flagon of water from the Siloam Pool to the Temple was joined on the Altar by another priest who carried the wine of the drink-offering. There were two silver bowls there, one on the west side of the Altar for the water and one on the east for the wine. The bowls were perforated on the bottom to allow the liquid to flow (most probably through pipes) down the Kedron Valley, the bowl for the wine having a wider hole as wine flows more slowly than water.

Golden lampstands on high tower-like constructions were lit, casting light over the whole city. Again, Jesus used this ceremony in his teaching when he said “I am the light of the world: (John 8.12).

One of four lampstands, each of which had four golden lamps, that stood in the Court of the Women. During the Rejoicing over the Water-drawing ceremony, the golden lamps on top of these massive towers were lit. The model portrays a young priest climbing a ladder to reach the the lamps in order to fill them with oil.

It was also in this Court of the Women that during the Triumphal Entry the children cried out in the Temple, “Hosanna to the Son of David!” (Matthew 21.15).

Ater Judas had betrayed Jesus, knowing that he had condemned himself, he cast the thirty pieces of silver “in the Temple” (Mathhew 27.3-5). Again, that would not have happened in the Sanctuary itself, but in this court where the thirteen money boxes were located.

Continuing the tradition of Jesus’ teaching in the Treasury, the disciples taught here too on a daily basis. In Acts 5.20,42, we read that Peter and John were commanded to do so by an angel of the Lord.

The Temple, viewed from the east in this image, was surrounded by the Temple Court. On the east (centre front), was the large Court of the Women, also known in the Gospels as the Treasury, where both Jesus and the disciples used to teach.

Posted in Jerusalem, Temple Mount | 4 Comments

Sodom and Gomorrah

Many people in the UK saw the episode of “The Search for Sodom” (see previous post) and it was apparently well received (in the USA it was shown on AHC). The identification of Tall el-Hammam with Sodom was made by Dr. Steve Collins.

A view of Tall el-Hammam at the south-eastern end of the Jordan Valley with the Upper Tall on the right and the Lower Tall on the left of the centre in the picture. In the foreground, dolmens can be seen that belonged to a huge megalithic field. (Clicking on all of our images takes you to our Image Library where you can download Powerpoint size copies for a small fee).

As we have shown previously, the geographical data preserved in the Scriptures, especially in Gen. 13, strongly point to the eastern side of the circular alluvial plain north of the Dead Sea for the location of Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah and Zeboiim. Archaeological excavations have shown that the site of Tall el-Hammam was terminally destroyed in the Middle Bronze Age, which was the time of Abraham.  As Tall el-Hammam is the largest site (62 acres) of the pentapolis, this makes it the best candidate for Sodom. In Gen. 14, the King of Sodom appears to be the spokesman of these cities, indicating its leading role. Additionally, Sodom is also the only kikkar city that has been mentioned in its own, for example in Ezek. 16 and in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke.

However, according to Gen. 19, Sodom was not the only city that was destroyed. If Tall el-Hammam is Sodom, then it is necessary to be able to identify the other cities of the Kikkar, Gomorrah, Admah and Zeboiim (Gen. 10.19; Gen. 13, etc). Geographically these cities were named from south to north, i.e. Sodom is the southernmost and Zeboiim the northernmost of these cities. This is apparently reminiscent of ancient “Map lists”, especially those of ancient Egypt, where the direction of Transjordan routes are mentioned from south to north, i.e. viewed from Egypt. The names are also grouped in two doublets: “Sodom and Gomorrah” – “Admah and Zeboiim”.

The southern end of the Jordan Valley widens out into an almost circular area. This area is called in Gen.13 the Plain (Hebrew: Kikkar – circle or disk) of Jordan. The Kikkar ends where the Jordan flows into the Dead Sea. The Cities of theKkikkar, Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah and Zeboiim were located in the eastern part of the Kikkar, as that is the area that can be seen from Bethel/Ai.

One mile (1.6 km) northeast of Tall el-Hammam is a smaller tall,  (Tall Kafrein), which was the largest satellite city of Tall el-Hammam (there are other smaller sites in the vicinity of Tall el-Hammam, also belonging to this Canaanite city-state). Dr. Steve Collins identifies the site of Tall Kafrein with Gomorrah. This site was also destroyed in the Middle Bronze Age and has the same archaeological profile as Tall el-Hammam and Talls Nimrin, Bleibel and Mustah (see below).

The archaeological site of Tall Kafrein viewed from Tall el-Hammam. This site in the centre of the picture has been identified as Gomorrah, as it is the largest satellite city of Tall el-Hammam. The fertile area in front of the tall is part of the well-watered Plain (kikkar) of the Jordan.

Sodom and Gomorrah are usually mentioned together as, for example, Bethel and Ai are mostly mentioned together. As Bethel is larger than Ai (Joshua 7.3), it reasons that the first site mentioned should be the largest.  Tall el-Hammam is indeed much larger than Tall Kafrein.

There are three other sites a little further to the north, of which Tall Nimrin (identified by Steve Collins with Admah) is the second largest of the five cities of the kikkar and nearby are two smaller twin satellite talls, Tall Bleibel and Tall Mustah (Zeboiim). Admah was probably the capital of the second Canaanite city-state in this area. Zeboim means two gazelles and these two sites straddle a valley through which the road from the highlands to the Jordan Valley runs.

A view of the archaeological site of Tall Nimrin, which has been identified with Admah by Steve Collins. The modern road in the foreground has destroyed part of the archaeological site.

A view of the eastern part of the archaeological site of Tall Nimrin. The building of the road exposed remains of ancient walls and stratigraphic layers.

The two small talls of Bleibel and Mustah, which can be seen respectively to the left and right in the centre of the picture. They have been identified collectively with  Zeboiim. Tall Bleibel corresponds to Zeboiim north and Tall Mustah to Zeboiim south. The road that descends from the highlands plateau to the Jordan Valley runs in between these two sites. The artificial lake in the foreground was created by the modern Kafrein Dam.

A view of Tall Mustah, the southern of the two Zeboiim sites.  It is located on the south side of  the road that descends from the highland plateau. Even today, an army post is located at the site of Tall Mustah.

The small hill in the foreground is an archaeological site that has been identified with Zeboiim north.  It is located on the north side of  the road that descends to the Jordan Valley.

Posted in Excavations | 3 Comments

The Search for Sodom

On Wednesday the 6th of May at 21.00pm, and Thursday the 7th of May at 13.00, an episode called “The Search for Sodom” in the series of “Secrets of the Bible” will be broadcast in the UK. This will be on Yesterday TV (Freeview Channel 19, Sky Channel 537), with the programme being available on UKTV Play service for the following week.

It tells the story of how Dr. Steven Collins found the location of the ancient city of Sodom. Steve Collins is dean of the College of Archaeology and Biblical History at TSW University, Albuquerque NM, USA.

Dr. Steven Collins pointing to the site of Tall el-Hammam on an aerial photograph displayed on Mount Nebo in 2009. Photo: Leen Ritmeyer

I first met Steve in 1996 at the excavations of Kh. El-Maqatir, a site in Benjamin in the Land of Israel that the excavator, Dr. Bryant Wood, believes to be biblical Ai (Joshua 8). Steve has researched the geographical and archaeological evidence for the location of the biblical city of Sodom for almost two decades until he found the site of Tall el-Hammam, based on his reading of Genesis Ch. 13.

A view of Tall el-Hammam at the southern end of the Jordan Valley with the Upper Tall on the right and the Lower Tall on the left of the centre in the picture.

Genesis 13 contains many geographical pointers that tell us exactly where Sodom was located. This chapter tells us that Sodom was located east of Bethel/Ai (vs.11) and situated in the Plain of the River Jordan. The Hebrew word for “Plain” is kikkar- a flattish round area, geographically located at the southern end of the River Jordan. This round area can easily be seen on any map or satellite image of Israel.

The southern end of the Jordan Valley widens out into an almost circular area. This area is called in Gen.13 the Plain (kikkar – circle or disk) of Jordan. The Kikkar ends where the Jordan flows into the Dead Sea. The Cities of the Kikkar, Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah and Zeboim were located in the eastern part of the Kikkar, as that is the area that can be seen from Bethel/Ai.

The view of the Kikkar from Bethel-Ai, looking east. Photo: Mike Luddeni

A reconstruction of Tall el-Hammam in the Middle Bronze Age. The excavator of the site, Dr. Steve Collins, has pointed out that the geographical data preserved in the Scriptures, especially in Gen. 13, strongly indicate the area northeast of the Dead Sea for the location of Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah and Zeboim. Archaeologically speaking, Tall el-Hammam is also the best candidate, as its terminal destruction occurred in the Middle Bronze Age, which was the time of Abraham.

The TV program details one of the major finds in Tall el-Hammam, that being the gate mentioned in Genesis 19.1: “Lot sat in the gate”. The first evidence of the gate was found in 2012:

Steve (right) and I standing in the gate opening. Photo: Daniel Gallasini.

The remains of several towers, including a large flanking tower, made it possible to draw a preliminary reconstruction drawing of the facade of the gate of Sodom:

During the excavations of Tall el-Hammam in 2012, a large flanking tower (left) and entrance (centre) through the Middle Bronze Age city wall were found. The gatehouse behind the entrance was found the following year. This reconstruction drawing shows what the main gate of Tall el-Hammam would have looked like.

We expected to find a gatehouse with chambers during the digging season the following year. The gatehouse was indeed found, but instead of internal chambers, many column bases were discovered, giving this gatehouse an internal layout that was highly unusual in the Ancient Near East.

During the excavations of Tall el-Hammam in 2013, a large gatehouse with pillars was found behind the main entrance to the Middle Bronze Age city. This reconstruction drawing shows what the main gate of Tall el-Hammam would have looked like. The drawing shows a right angled pathway through the gatehouse with a space at the side where the elders and judges of the city would have congregated.

Many other exciting finds were made, such as melted potsherds and burnt skeletons, that testify to a terrible and fiery destruction, reminiscent of that described in Genesis 19. If you have the opportunity, “The Search for Sodom” is well worth watching!

Posted in Excavations | 7 Comments

Illegally Digging Up The Temple Mount

Hillel Fendel of Israelnationalnews (Arutz 7) reports that the stone floor inside the Dome of the Rock is being dug up by tractor under the guise of “replacing carpets”.

This cutaway drawing of the Dome of the Rock shows The Rock around which this Islamic structure is built. The Rock, shown in yellow, was the Foundation Stone of the First and Second Temples on which the Holy of Holies was built.
Below The Rock are steps that descend into a cave called al-Maghara.
The floor of the Dome of the Rock is shown in grey.

Using the excuse of “replacing carpets,” the Waqf (Islamic Trust) on the Temple Mount began digging up the stone floor today inside the Mosque of Omar – the site of some of the most sacred areas of the two Holy Temples of Kings Solomon and Herod.

A small tractor was brought into the famous gold-domed structure and dug and removed earth there, with no permit to do so. Such work requires permission from and supervision by the Antiquities Authority, as well as approval from the Ministerial Committee on Archaeological Digs in Holy Sites.

The Antiquities Authority said the works were not coordinated with it, and added, “Further questions must be directed towards the police, who are the sovereign body there.”

The joint Temple Mount Movements umbrella organization, HaMateh HaMeshutaf, reports that any change in the floor, and certainly a penetration into the earth below, is liable to cause irreversible damage to the foundations of the Holy Temple and the surviving remnants of the Holy Temple periods.

This is understandably a cause of concern, especially as there is no information of how deep the excavation is. It is not known therefore what was found or damaged below the floor.

It may be helpful to remember that in 1959, sections of the floor were also dug up for the purpose of strengthening the columns and walls of the Dome of the Rock with reinforced concrete. These secretly taken photographs showed the bedrock  below the pavement:

Scaffolding poles stand on the floor of the Dome of the Rock at upper right and in the foreground, metal bars for reinforced concrete can be seen. The bedrock is estimated to be located a foot and a half (50cm) below the floor. Photo: Studium Biblical Franciscanum.

Here the bedrock is visible close to the central north column of the Dome of the Rock. Photo: Studium Biblical Franciscanum.

This photograph was taken close to the south-southeast corner of the Dome of the Rock. Photo: Studium Biblical Franciscanum.

In all of these photographs, the bedrock appears to be located not more than a foot or two below the floor of the Dome of the Rock. It is important that this excavation is carried out under archaeological supervision for even if nothing other than soil is found, the configuration of the bedrock may cast light on the layout of the Second Temple that stood here almost 2000 years ago.

HT: Joe Lauer

Posted in Excavations, Jerusalem, Temple Mount | 3 Comments

Voice of Israel interview

Kathleen and I were recently interviewed by Eve Harow of the Voice of Israel. She runs a special program called “Rejuvenation with Eve Harow”.

Eve Harow

Eve is a long-time community activist and tour guide from the Judean hills. Her extensive work in Israel advocacy has taken her all over the world. Each week she discusses archaeology, nature and interviews Israelis on current events in the Middle East and the Jewish world.

In the wake of the publication of our guidebook to the Temple Mount, she wanted to know how we got involved with the archaeology of Jerusalem and especially that of the Temple Mount. Our part of the interview, called “Preserving the Holy” was broadcast on April 5th and can be listened to here.

“The Ultimate Guide to an Ultimate Site”

Posted in Jerusalem, Products, Temple Mount | 2 Comments

Radio interview on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem

I was recently interviewed by John Enarsson of “Cry for Zion” on Temple Mount issues and also on our new guide book to the Temple Mount, which we reported on in previous posts here and here. These are some of the questions that were asked:

1. Do we know beyond a reasonable doubt that the (1st and) 2nd Temple stood on the Temple Mount? Why? What would be the most important reasons?

2. Do we have good reason to believe that the Holy of Holies was centered on the Foundation Stone? Why? What is the feeling in the scholarly field on this question?

3. A few years ago, you debunked the sensationalistic theories of Ernest L. Martin. Today, the adventurer and author Robert Cornuke is making Martin’s ideas about the Temple popular again to a wider audience. Have you read Cornuke’s book TEMPLE and could you comment on it?

 4. Josephus has long been a favorite source for archeologists. What role do traditional rabbinic sources like the Mishnah play for archeologists like yourself?

You can listen to the 30-minute audio podcast, which includes the interview, here:

Radio interview

Posted in Jerusalem, News, Temple Mount | Leave a comment

Historic Reenactment of Passover in Israel

BreakingIsrael News reports on an historic reenactment of Passover by the Temple Insitute.

Priests are preparing to sacrifice a Passover Lamb. Photo: Temple Institute

The Institute posted on its Facebook page,

“This was the most accurate and authentic reenactment of this service to have taken place in nearly 2,000 years.”

It included all the stages of the ritual, such as checking the animal for blemishes, slaughtering it, collecting its blood and bringing it to the corner of the altar, skinning the animal and separating its inner parts, and roasting it whole in a special Passover oven.

The proceedings can be watched on this video.

Kohanim blowing silver trumpets and carrying lambs to the place of the offering.(Photo: The Temple Institute)


Posted in Jerusalem, News, Temple Mount | 2 Comments

The Altar of the Jewish Holy Temple

Breaking Israel News reports on an altar that has been built by the Temple Institute. You can read the report here.

The altar built by the Temple Institute to be used in service in the rebuilt Third Jewish Temple. (Photo: The Temple Institute)

Priests carrying vessels near the Ramp of the Altar

According to this report, the Temple Institute in Jerusalem has completed the construction of the stone altar required for the sacrificial service in the Holy Temple. One thing that makes this altar unique is that it was designed to be disassembled and quickly reassembled in its correct position on the Temple Mount. According to the Temple Institute,

“The people of Israel are required to build an altar exclusively on the site of the original altar on Mount Moriah, the Temple Mount. When circumstances become favorable, this new altar can be quickly re-assembled on the proper location, enabling the Divine service to be resumed without delay.”

It was a little strange to see the red tiles and bricks, but they are supposed to be the outer layer only, while the inner part was built with natural stones.

A few years ago, the Temple Institute asked me for lectures regarding the layout of the Temple and the location of the Altar. They appear to agree with our plan as shown in our new Temple Mount guide book. In our book we show a plan of the altar in relation to the Dome of the Rock and also a photograph with its location:

This plan shows Herod’s Temple, courts and Altar (beige) in relation to the Dome of the Rock and the Dome of the Chain (blue). The Rock inside the Dome of the Rock was the Foundation Stone of the First and Second Temples on which the Holy of Holies was built. The Dome of the Chain stands on the former Porch that was built in front of the magnificent Temple built by Herod and the great Altar of Burnt Sacrifices stood to its east.

A view of the Dome of the Rock, looking west, with the Dome of the Chain to its east. The Altar stood in the open space between the Dome of the Chain and the steps that lead up to the Raised Platform from the east.

One wonders when and how the Temple Institute will be able to build this altar in its original location.

Posted in Jerusalem, News, Temple Mount | 6 Comments

Jerusalem – The Temple Mount

Yesterday we received the first copies of our guide book to the Temple Mount. It has 160 pages and 184 illustrations and weighs only 350 grams (12 ounces). It measures 20.8 x 14.3 x 1 cm (8.1 x 5.6 x 0.4 inches), which is a handy size to carry around with you and would fit easily in a large pocket or small bag. It is now possible to order our guide book directly from our website. The cost is US$25.00 or UK£17.00 plus postage.

We hope and feel sure that our book will enhance your visit to the Temple Mount and deepen your understanding of the fascinating history of this important site!



Posted in History, Jerusalem, Products, Temple Mount | 8 Comments

Jerusalem – The Temple Mount, A Carta Guide

We are pleased to announce that it is now possible to order our new guide book to The Temple Mount in Jerusalem from the Carta website. We thank all the people that have written to Carta to have this guide published.


Posted in Jerusalem, Temple Mount | 7 Comments