The Most Disputed Zone of Contention in Israel

The Most Disputed Zone of Contention in Israel

October 31, 2005

In the months that lead us into 2007, you will hear an ever increasing rumbling of angry over the division of the old city of Jerusalem by the security wall/barrier, which will separate Palestinian from Israeli. The old city of Jerusalem, and particularly its Temple Mount, is the one spot in Israel where tempers flare more than any other in Israel.

I have been fascinated for more than 50 years with the substrata changes under the Jerusalem of David’s day to the northern expansion of Jerusalem in Christ’s day. You have no idea the joy I would experience if I were allowed to explore under today’s temple mount for as long as I desired.

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Of course, like many others, I enjoy studying the events that occurred on the surface, but my real pleasure is in studying the events and changes that developed beneath Jerusalem during its history. Just before Jesus was crucified, he spoke of a surface event that would occur after his death because they rejected him as their Messiah.

Luke 21:5,6 – And as some spake of the temple, how it was adorned with goodly stones and gifts, he said, [6] As for these things which ye behold, the days will come, in the which there shall not be left one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down.

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And, sure enough, it happened with Titus, the Roman Prince son of the Emperor Vespasian, overran the city in 70 A.D.

Luke 21:24 – And they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations: and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled.

As each of the three Jewish temples were built, a maze of tunnels, cisterns, drainage pipes, natural karst pocket enlargements, a flowing stream for priest’s immersion, a Rom

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an security route, and an escape route, came into existence under what is now currently identified as the Temple Mount. I stopped going to the Holy Land in 2000 when the current Palestinian uprising began.

Between 1952 and 2000, I have lost count of how many trips I actually made to the Holy Land. The Jordanians held it on my first trip, and if you had seen it then you would have been shocked by comparing it to its present c

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ondition. The area in front of the Wailing Wall was a shambles of Arab shacks that smelled like manure, and some Arabs pissed on the wall. The Jews were not even allowed to approach the wall. The unexposed section of the temple wall, which extended north under Wilson’s Arch section, could only be partially seen by traveling under it through a very congested maze of litter, and then entering a tunnel behind a huge blocking door that was almost completely blocked by discarded material. However, it was possible to weave and wade north, through and over the material, far enough to finally reach a large hole in the western wall that branched off the main tunnel eastward under the temple mound. This long south to north tunnel, off which the large entrance branched, is now identified as the Rabbi’s tunnel, and from that point northward it was partially caved in, and blocked with a variety of debris.

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I never went northward beyond that point until the Israelis cleaned out the Rabbi’s tunnel, finally opening it to tours in the late eighties.

I have always been far more interested in what lies under Jerusalem, and it’s Temple Mount, than what is on its surface.

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But after I retired from the NSA, I wanted my wife to see Israel, and I knew that she was not likely to want to see what I was going there to check out. I told the tour guide before we left the U.S. that I did not intend to stay with the group in Jerusalem. He really did not like the idea, but I think he thought he would humor me, believing that I would stay with the group out of fear

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of being lost from the group. To this day I am still not sure he believed me when I told

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me I knew Israel like the back of my hand. So, after I left the group when we reached Jerusalem, my wife gave me one of her famous lectures, and told me I should stay with the group, but I did not.

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So, the first day she toured with the group, and I went under Jerusalem, she informed me that if I did not go with the group the next day, she was walking with me wherever I went, and that was that! So, the next day I took her with me under Jesus’ Jerusalem, up shafts, down shafts, through caves, and to a wide variety of fault structures exposed in the topography of Jerusalem.

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So, by two o’clock, her poor knees were almost locked and she was exhausted.

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I got a safe cab to take her back to the hotel where the group was staying, and she never asked to go with me again until 1986.

The aforementioned great hole, which led eastward off the Rabbi’s tunnel under the Temple Mount, was sealed with cement shortly after Israel took back the old city of Jerusalem from the Jordanians in 1967, but you can clearly see where it was sealed today. The hole led into a maze of tunnels that are woven into a system that extends under about three quarters of the western portion of the temple mount.

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It was easier to bribe pre-1967 Jordanians than post-1967 Israelis to let you do certain things and to go certain places. I was a young man in my twenties on my first trip to the Holy Land, and had no idea how many tunnels crisscrossed under the Temple Mount. They now estimate the number to be between 35 and 40.

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I believe to this day that the Ark of the Covenant is hidden in that maze of tunnels, and is probably directly beneath where it once sat in the Holy of Holies in the temple of Solomon.

I assure you that no tunnel, in that maze of tunnels under the temple mount, goes under the large rock strata from which the Dome of the Rock extends upward. I have been directly under the rock in a single room, carved out of Turonian limestone by one it’s conquerors after 700 A.D. It is about 22 feet X 22 feet, although I did not measure it, but I can assure you that no tunnels lead into it.

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The actual temple of Herod sat north of the Dome of the Rock over a large karst cavity containing a sub-surface watering system.

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The famous Ark of the Covenant rested over the natural foundation of a man-leveled, man-smoothed, Turonian strata, which is now covered by a copula dome. It is identified as the Dome of the Spirits or the Dome of the Tablets, and is very easy to find on the Temple Mount’s northwestern corner.

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The copula lines up perfectly on an east-west axis with Queen Eudoxia’s Golden Gate, which is built over the ancient Susa Gate that was used by Jesus when he rode into Jerusalem as its king. When the Red Heifer offering was made on the Mount of Olives, it was required that it be offered in a position such that the priest offering it could see directly over the Susa Gate into the door of the Temple’s Holy Place.

I will say, to the credit of the Jordanians, that they did clean up the Temple Mount complex between 1958 and 1964, but before that the Wailing Wall, Wilson’s Arch, and the western portions were in pitiful condition. The Islamic structures on the temple platform were kept in fair condition, but the 1958 to 1964 improvements were most dramatic. The Israeli’s, following their capture of the complex in 1967, have made the Wailing Wall, from where the Fortress of Antonia was located to the end of the Wailing Wall, and the southern wall of the mount, into a wonderful touring zone.

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