There is a lot of discussion today about the work of Walter Martin, who claims that the original temple was built over the Gihon Springs. He didn’t do a thorough job of research, nor did he have the advantage of the archaeological digs that have been conducted since his passing. Here’s why.
The location that Dr. Martin tagged as the temple is actually the administrative headquarters built by King David to run the kingdom. It is built on the highest point of the City of David with its back wall against the city wall so that it has a panoramic view of Jerusalem. Seals were found there during archaeological digs that were used by the officials that threw Jeremiah into the pit, and the pit that probably was the one he was thrown into has been identified as well.
Dr. Martin supposed that the temple would have been built near the springs for the water supply. He was unaware that there was a spring coming out from under the steps up into the priest’s court when the temple was built, that subsequently dried up, resulting in the building of an aqueduct from near Bethlehem emptying into the bath pool in the apartment of the high priest and running down into the lower levels.
In addition, when the temple was originally built, Solomon had “dew catchers” installed on three sides of the temple in the walls of the store rooms built there. These were channels carved into the wall into which were hung carpets of string that condensed the dew and dripped it into channels that carried it into a cistern on the mount. The dew was hugely prolific in those days, but gradually dried up as the forests on the land were harvested.
There has been the suggestion that, because Solomon was anointed at the Gihon Springs, they were near David’s dwelling. If so, why did they put him on David’s personal mule to take him “down” to it? Further, when Joab went to see what all the shouting was about, it was too far to discern the cause of the sounds. That indicates that it was at least a quarter mile away. If Joab heard it in the house where the feasting by the usurper was taking place, and Solomon was beside the Gihon Springs, then the distances were substantial.
Next, the temple was built on the threshing floor of Ornan, where the comet landed (the angel with the flaming sword, the tail of a comet). When David went up to buy the threshing floor, it was outside the City of David, not inside it, as Dr. Martin surmised. That error comes from this fact. The Ark of the Covenant was housed in a tent in the City of David on Mt. Zion all of David’s remaining life. Solomon built the temple on Mt. Moriah, higher up the ridge than Mt. Zion and outside the walls of the City of David.
When the tabernacle in Shiloh (which translates as “liberty” or “Freedom”) fell to shreds and would no longer protect the Ark of the Covenant from the weather, the Ark was taken into the home of one of the priests. When David decided to build a permanent shelter for the Ark, he brought it into the City of David, which was on Mt. Zion where he lived in the fortress he took from the Jebusites and placed it in a tent he had constructed as a temporary shelter for it until the stone building was completed. When he wrote the Psalms, it was still in the temporary tent on Mt. Zion. Solomon had been king for 11 years before it got moved to Mt. Moriah (four years before he started building and seven years in the building). Remember, the City of David was taken by going up the water shaft, so that did not go up into the location of the temple.
The temple was built atop a rock that was 75 feet tall. That rock has been identified by archaeologists, and its top is the rock under the Dome of the Rock. The temple was built slightly to the north of the Dome, under what is now the Dome of the Spirits which is located on a shoulder of the main rock and covered with earth to allow for the cisterns and mechanisms that were required for the functions of the temple. The rock under the “Spirits” is not a part of the mountain, but the meteorite that David saw fall. The proof of that is that Solomon put a lever under that rock so that the Ark could be lowered by a sand-activated mechanism in the time when trouble came. The construction of the inner chamber was such that the priest went down several steps on the day of Atonement to sprinkle the blood of the goat on the left side of the Ark. The reason for the lowered position was to ground the Ark, which is an electrical capacitor that is activated by switches in the rings through which the carrying poles were inserted. When the poles were lifted, they had to be lifted in perfect synchronization, or the switches would activate at different times, throwing the carrying poles up and down and throwing the priests trying to carry it around like rag dolls. To be sure the Ark was not activated unless it was intended to be activated, it was grounded by placing it on the mechanisms built into the floor around the meteorite.
Further, the leader who built the Dome of the Rock brought a bevy of knowledgeable Jews down to Jerusalem to identify the site of the temple in exchange for the privilege of living wherever they chose. When they identified the site, he decreed that the Dome would not be built on it, but south of it (which eliminates the other site in contention for identification of the site of the temple) for the purpose of identifying the Jews who claimed to be Muslims to avoid paying the tax imposed on them, as a true believer in Islam would not turn his back to the rock to read the inscriptions around the top of the walls, but the Jews did not know about this prohibition, so would self-identify and have the tax imposed on them. The site of the Dome of the Rock is the site of Solomon’s private dwelling, which will never be disturbed, as God has decreed so in order that a king would never defile the holy mountain by having intercourse with a woman on it, or bringing a woman in her menstrual period on the mountain again, keeping it holy and pure, a place of prayer for all people, as he decreed originally.
Israel was aware that they did not have the military strength to protect the site, so they permitted the Jordanians to take the responsibility and expense of protecting it until the time was right. You are strongly urged not to go down into the cave, or your blood will be on your own head. The first level of the cave contains the tunnel that Solomon dug to be able to go into the temple any time he chose. Where the exit was inside the temple is uncertain, but it is thought to be inside the first room where the candlesticks and show-bread are kept.
Those are some of the weightier reasons why the temple has been located correctly. There are a truck-load of others as well, too many to list in one post.