A once thoroughly debunked theory that the two Jewish Temples did not stand on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem is currently gaining traction in the Christian world.
Cry for Zion, a nongovernmental organization of Jews and Christians advocating Jewish rights to the Temple Mount, features Doron Keidar, the founder of Cry for Zion, and John Enarson, the organization’s Christian Relations and Creative Director.
Their motivation for producing the video was generated in reaction to Robert Cornuke’s best-selling book titled “Temple: Amazing New Discoveries that Change Everything About the Location of Solomon’s Temple,” published in 2014. According to Cornuke’s theory, both Jewish Temples stood further south in an area now known as Ir David (the City of David). Instead, a massive Roman fort stood on what is now known as the Temple Mount.
Cornuke presents a theory that sheds doubt on the Jewish claim to the Temple Mount. Coupled with the UNESCO resolutions that designate the Temple Mount as an exclusively Muslim holy site, Keidar fears the Jewish claim to its holiest site is under threat.
Cornuke’s theory was criticized for having no archaeological basis and for contradicting Temple- era historical accounts, such as that of Josephus Flavius, a first-century Romano-Jewish scholar who cited the Mount as the location of the Second Temple. Despite being definitively debunked by archaeologists and Biblical scholars, the alternate Temple location theory continues to have a following within some segments of the Christian community.
“Subconsciously, the Christians want to believe that the Jews are wailing at the wrong wall,” Enerson, a Christian studying at the Scandinavian School of Theology, told Breaking Israel News. “They want to think that the Jewish people were wrong and maybe the Christians know something the Jews don’t.”
As a Jew, Keidar sees this criticism of the Jewish tradition differently.
“There is a common misconception among Christians that Jews abandoned the Temple Mount after the destruction of the second Temple by the Romans in 70 CE,” Keidar explained. “This opens up the possibility that the Jews don’t really know where the Temples really stood.”
Keidar admits he believed this theory to be true. Curiosity led him to investigate the historical credibility of this belief that the Jewish tradition was broken and the knowledge of the Temple’s location suspect.
“I was surprised to discover that we have had a continual Jewish presence on the Mount, as well as on the Mount of Olives, east of Mount Zion facing the Holy Temple,” Keidar said. “Thanks to this unbroken chain, we are absolutely sure of the location of the Temple. It is important for Christians to acknowledge that we have never abandoned the Temple Mount.”
Another motive for believing in the theory of an alternate location for the Temple is more altruistic.
“Some people who believe in a different location think that we would be able to rebuild the Temple tomorrow because it’s not in the same location as the Dome of the Rock,” Keidar told Breaking Israel News. “The Christians who say the Temples were at Silwan (the Shiloah Pool) think the Arabs will welcome us with open arms if we come to build the Temple there.”
Keidar was born and raised in Israel. He served as a combat soldier in the Givati Brigade of the IDF. He rejects the possibility that selecting an alternate location would lead to the rebuilding of the Temple today.
“The Islamic concept of Waqf prevents the Arabs from giving up land anywhere Muslims have previously conquered under the name of Allah,” Keidar explained. “The Christians who think that locating the Temple somewhere else are well-intentioned, but they don’t understand Muslims. They will never permit the building of a Jewish Temple in any location they consider Muslim, even if it is an empty field today.”
Keidar feels the strongest reason for Christians to endorse the debunked theory is due to a verse in the New Testament. In the Book of Matthew, Jesus arrives at the Temple with his apostles. As they were leaving, Jesus pointed to the buildings and said, “See these buildings, there will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down.”
“This presents Christians with a dilemma, Keidar explained. “Christians look at the Kotel (Western Wall) and the other retaining walls of the Temple Mount and see that they are still standing. So either Jesus is a liar or the archaeology is lying. Given that choice, devout Christians choose faith in Jesus over facts.”
Keidar believes this text should not be problematic.
“Taken in context, it seems clear Jesus was most likely referring the actual Temple buildings and not the retaining walls,” Keidar said. “In regards to the Temple structures, his prediction proved accurate.”
Cry for Zion made the video in the hopes that more Christians will be motivated to connect with the Temple Mount.
“Rejecting the Temple Mount is the last stand of Replacement Theology,” Enarson explained. Replacement Theology, a belief that Christianity replaced Judaism in the covenant between Abraham and God, was a core tenet of Christianity. Subsequent to, and because of, the Holocaust, some mainstream Christian theologians and denominations have rejected Replacement Theology.
“Rejecting Replacement Theology means accepting that God does not change,” Enarson explained. “God does not renege on a covenant. Christians are beginning to acknowledge this in relation to Judaism and Israel, but they are still not generally willing to do that regarding the Temple and the Temple Mount due to a negative perception of them in Christianity. They cannot accept that the sanctity God invested in the site is still there.”
Enarson believes it is essential for Christians to change this perception and connect with the Temple Mount.
“From beginning to the end of the Gospel accounts, Jesus was constantly connected with the Temple,” Enarson wrote on the Cry for Zion site. “Not only was Jesus connected with the Mountain of God’s House, he was absolutely passionate about it.”