Monthly Archives: December 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.

Fire rages in Carmel mountains

Haaretz reports here on a fire in the Carmel mountains.

Forty people were killed on Thursday as a huge brush fire continued to rage across the Carmel Mountains in northern Israel, killing and injuring dozens, among them prison guards and firemen.

Some 13,000 people were evacuated from their homes in the north and Israel called for international aid as the fire blazed out of control, fanned by easterly winds following a month of near record temperatures for the time of year.

This story developed throughout the day Thursday and it would be best to use Google to search for updates.

Mount Carmel is a range which runs southeast from the Mediterranean Sea for about 14½ miles. It is probably best known in the Bible as the place of the contest between the prophet Elijah and the prophets of Baal (1 Kings 18:17-40). The traditional site for this event is shown at Muhraka on the eastern end of the range.

The photo below was made from an observation point on the western end of the Carmel range. Some of the buildings of greater Haifa can be seen along the Mediterranean. The photo shows some of the typical scrub brush seen many places on the mountain.

The Mediterranean Sea from Mount Carmel near Haifa. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The Mediterranean Sea from Mount Carmel near Haifa. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

This map from shows Mount Carmel in relation to sites in the Jezreel Valley and lower Galilee.

Map from to show location of Mount Carmel.

Map from showing the location of Mount Carmel.

The next photo was made near Murakah on the southeastern end of the Carmel range.

Mount Carmel near Murakah. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Mount Carmel near Murakah. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Update: Todd Bolen, at the BiblePlaces Blog, calls attention to 35 powerful photos of the fire on Mount Carmel. Check

Uriah’s trip from Jerusalem to Rabbah

Last evening I was looking at the biblical account of David’s battles against the Ammonites (2 Samuel 10-11).

In the spring of the year, at the time when kings normally conduct wars, David sent out Joab with his officers and the entire Israelite army. They defeated the Ammonites and besieged Rabbah. But David stayed behind in Jerusalem. (2 Samuel 11:1 NET)

You probably know the rest of the story. David is attracted to Bathsheba, commits adultery, learns Bathsheba is pregnant, calls Uriah home in hope that he will spend the night with Bathsheba. Uriah acted in the true warrior way by not enjoying the benefits of the marriage bed while his companions were camping in the open field. David sent Uriah back to the battle with a letter to Joab to put Uriah in the forefront of the battle.

Have you thought about the journey made by Uriah and the other Israelite soldiers as they traveled from Jerusalem to Rabbah and back? You know where Jerusalem is located. It is situated on the eastern side of the water parting ridge of Israel at an elevation of about 2400 feet above sea level. Numerous times we have discussed the journey from Jerusalem to the Jordan Valley. See here and here.

The distance from Jerusalem to the Dead Sea is not more than 20 miles. The elevation drops from about 2600 feet at the Mount of Olives to (currently) about 1384 feet below sea level at the surface of the Dead Sea. The point of crossing at the Jordan River would be a little higher. From there one must go up into the Transjordan Tableland to reach Rabbah. The general elevation of the Transjordan Tableland is about 3000 feet above sea level. Amman is about 2500 feet above sea level. That makes this a difficult route of travel.

Rabbah (Rabbath), the capital of ancient Ammon, is the site we now know as Amman, capital of Jordan. During the Hellenistic period the city was renamed Philadelphia.

The total distance from Jerusalem to Rabbah is about 40 miles as the crow flies. Men rarely travel like crows. The distance by road is longer and more difficult.

The photo I wish to share today was made in early April. It was made along a road a little east of the Jordan Valley and the Plains of Moab. From here you can see the terrain David’s men, including Joab and Uriah, had to travel on their way from Jerusalem to Rabbah. Modern Amman is located in the mountains we see on the horizon.

View looking east toward Amman. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

View looking east toward Amman. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Learning routes of travel is one of the most important values in visiting the Bible lands. I hope this photo will help you with your study of the biblical account.