Welcome back, study friends! I hope you are studying along with us as our tour group prepares for a trip to Israel next month. Today we’ll focus on Temple Mount and the Southern steps.
Use the picture above to see exactly what we’re talking about. Temple Mount (upon which the Temple once stood) is the very large platform dominating the picture, and you are seeing it from the southeastern corner. The roadway you see ascends from the Kidron Valley (on the far right), bends around the southeastern corner of Temple Mount, and ultimately heads west (off the left side of the picture). The Mount of Olives and Garden of Gethsemane lie across the Kidron Valley (off the right side of the picture), and the City of David extends off the bottom left corner of the picture.
In the background you see the golden Dome of the Rock sitting prominently on Temple Mount, approximately where the Jewish temple once stood. Both Matthew 24:2 and Luke 21:6 record Jesus’s words prophesying the total destruction of the Temple, which still stood in His day. Sure enough, roughly 40 years after He warned of it, the Romans destroyed the Temple (70 AD), leaving not one stone upon another. In fact, they pushed the building stones of the Temple off Temple Mount. Thus, when we are there next month, we will see nothing left of the Temple itself, but will see a portion of that pile of stones at the base of the southwest corner of Temple Mount.
However, Temple Mount, the large platform Herod built, remains. Today, Muslims have staked claim to Temple Mount. Not only does the Dome of the Rock, Islam’s third most holy site, stand on Temple Mount, but so does Al-Aqsa Mosque, the black-domed structure, seen in the picture, directly south of the Dome of the Rock.
Just below that black dome, and slightly to the right, are the Southern steps…steps upon which Jesus would almost certainly have ascended to Temple Mount. In the area between Temple Mount and the roadway are dozens of mikvot, Jewish ritual baths. Jewish custom required those entering the Temple for worship to cleanse themselves. Thus, mikvot were plentiful near the Southern steps where the common people entered the Temple. Many are excavated and clearly visible today.
Why not join us for further study of Temple Mount and the Southern steps! We have posted this and many other study guides on our EXPERIENCE ISRAEL Study Guides page. Our tour group is learning about sites we will see, and you are invited to join in our study! Enjoy them all!