Daily Archives: December 6, 2010

The pinnacle of the temple

A friend asks about the pinnacle of the temple.

Can you tell me where to find a diagram that shows the “pinnacle of the temple?” It looks as if the consensus is that it was Solomon’s porch. Anyone jumping off would land in the Kidron Valley.

In my reading the most common view is that the southeast corner of the Temple Mount is the place mentioned in Mark and Luke as  the pinnacle of the temple.

William Barclay says,

In the third temptation Jesus in imagination saw himself on the pinnacle of the Temple where Solomon’s Porch and the Royal Porch met. (The Gospel of Luke, in The Daily Study Bible Series, 44)

Benjamin Mazar, The Mountain of the Lord, shows a photo of the southeast corner of the wall with the comment that this “is known as the ‘pinnacle of the Temple’ (Mark 11:11; Luke 4:9),” page 149.

William Hendriksen says,

The present temptation, then, takes place in Jerusalem, to which the devil has led Jesus. Satan has set the Savior on the very pinnacle (literally wing) of the outer wall of the entire temple complex. The exact spot is not given. It may have been the roof-edge of Herod’s royal portico, overhanging the Kedron Valley, and looking down some four hundred fifty feet, a “dizzy height,” as Josephus points out (Antiq. XV.412). This spot was located southeast of the temple court, perhaps at or near the place from which, according to tradition, James, the Lord’s brother, was hurled down. See the very interesting account in Eusebius, EcclHist;, II.xxiii. ( New Testament Commentary : Exposition of the Gospel According to Luke, 237)

Here is the comment by Josephus,

… and this cloister deserves to be mentioned better than any other under the sun; for while the valley was very deep, and its bottom could not be seen, if you looked from above into the depth, this further vastly high elevation of the cloister stood upon that height, insomuch, that if anyone looked down from the top of the battlements, or down both those heights, he would be giddy, while his sight could not reach to such an immense depth. (Ant. 15:412)

The photo below shows the southeast corner of the temple enclosure built by Herod the Great in the Second Temple model now displayed on the grounds of the Israel Museum.

Second Temple Model, Jerusalem. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Second Temple Model view from the southeast. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

In the photo below we see the southeast corner from the east. The stone work includes a conglomerate ranging from later Moslem (at the top) to Herodian (at the bottom). At the present time one certainly would not fall into the Kidron Valley if he jumped from the top of the wall. I do not know what it might have been in the time of Jesus. I think a jump from the present wall to the land below would be deadly enough.

Southeast corner of Temple Mount enclosure. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Southeast corner of Temple Mount enclosure. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Here is a view of the Kidron Valley looking south. The “pinnacle of the temple” is visible in the upper right of the photo. The valley drops off rapidly near the point where you see the tomb on the left (Absalom’s Pillar).

Kidron Valley looking South. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Kidron Valley looking South. Note wall in upper right. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

In a post to follow I will mention another view.

My friend asked where to find a diagram of the pinnacle of the temple. One might check the Image Library at Ritmeyer Archaeological Design here.

The photos above might be all one needs to illustrate the point. I have posted these in sizes large enough for use in teaching presentations.