Many readers have no doubt heard about the recent reports of the discovery of a ritual bath underneath the western wall of the Jerusalem temple mount, along with four First Century AD coins. You can read about the discovery here in the press release from the Jewish Antiquities Authority. The coins were struck by the Roman procurator of Judea, Valerius Gratus sometime between 17-18 AD. According to the press release, “This means that Robinson’s Arch, and possibly a longer part of the Western Wall, were constructed after this year – that is to say: at least twenty years after Herod’s death (which is commonly thought to have occurred in the year 4 BCE).”
Readers may recall that some time ago I blogged about the possibility that the precise location of the Jerusalem temple being incorrect. I referred readers to the work of Ernest Martin, kept alive for consideration by his estate here. I noted that Martin’s work raises some serious questions about the precise temple location that seem to simply get ignored or (in my experience at an academic conference) somewhat ridiculed, as opposed to cogently addressed and refuted. I’m no expert on the Temple Mount, but I am familiar with the issues that need to be addressed and wonder why no systematic refutation has been offered (counter-arguments have been offered, but those arguments were also addressed by Martin in detail — and that is where the subject died, or became something to be dismissed). At any rate, it would be nice to suppose that this new discovery might bring Martin’s work back into the discussion since he proposed that this part of the Temple Mount (in mainstream thinking; in Martin’s view he refers to it as the Haram esh-Sharif) was built well after Herod’s death (which Martin has at 1 BC, contrary to the accepted 4 BC – the issue is of significance due to the precise astronomical dating of Jesus’ birth if one takes Rev 12:1-6 as astronomical signage for the birth).
At any rate, I offer here a recent summary of the new discovery from David Sielaff, trustee of Martin’s work. I hope you will all find it of interest.