The Temple Mount: Where is the Holy of Holies?

by: Dr. Asher S. Kaufman [z"l], Professor Emeritus, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

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There is no site holier for the Jewish people than Jerusalem's Temple Mount, on which the Biblical and Second Temple period Temples stood. Yet nobody really knows what these Temples looked like or where exactly they stood. While extensive archaeological remains have been found from the Temple Mount area, it is generally accepted that that no significant material remains have survived from these Temples.

Lack of information, however, does not necessarily result in lack of reconstructions or in attempts to pinpoint the location of the Temple and its components. The intrinsic holiness of the Temple for Jews, and even for Christians, ignited religious imaginations and architectural fancy with numerous reconstructions throughout the ages.

But then, the reunification of Jerusalem in 1967 an electrifying event in Jewish history provided the backdrop that spurred many to find the pearl of Jerusalem archeological research the location of the ancient Temple. For the first time in nearly 2,000 years, the Old city of Jerusalem came under Jewish sovereignty. Now with free access to the Temple, a small community of scholars arose who engaged in the scientific study of the Temple Mount and its relevant texts and who sought to provide solutions to the conundrums of building, place and location. Dr. Asher Selig Kaufman had long been amongst the leading scholars of this group.

Dr. Kaufman's book is a rare comprehensive work on the Temple of Jerusalem, and is the third in a series entitled The Temple of Jerusalem. The first two volumes deal with Tractate Middot, the mishnaica tractate that provides a description (of sorts) of the Temple and its courts. The Temple Mount: Where is the Holy of Holies, gives the reader a detailed account in English of Kaufman's Temple and Temple Mount studies.

The core of the book's 23 short chapters (and five appendices) is devoted to the location and shape of the Temple and its components: the Inner Court, chambers and gates, the sanctified Outer Court and the water supply. Particular attention is paid to the superimposition of the Temple on the present Temple Mount area, using "archaeological" and literary evidence (Middot and Josephus) when available and necessary. Introductory chapters deal briefly with basic descriptions of the sources, the geographical framework and Temple customs. Concluding chapters deal with later Jewish and Islamic traditions, as well as with "predictions" and a "religious solution" to peace between Jew and Muslim on this contested real estate. Five technical appendices, on such matters as rock levels and dimensions of ashlar stones, conclude the volume.

Dr. Kaufman's research also led him to the discovery of the Foundation Stone and offers each of us some fresh and relevant thoughts. The book contains numerous color and b&w plates, maps and plans. Size: 310x235mm; 184 pages. Red gilt Hardcover and spine.

Asher Kaufman was one of the foremost scholars of the Jerusalem Temple. He was an eminent Israeli physicist, born in Edinburgh, Scotland. He received his training in physics, earning a Ph.D. from the University of Edinburgh. In the 1950's he was engaged in nuclear fusion research. In 1959, he made aliyah to take up an academic appointment in the physics department of the Hebrew University (now the Racah Institute of Physics). Dr. Kaufman was currently Honorary Research Fellow, the College of Judea and Samaria and Emeritus Professor, the Hebrew University. Dr. Asher Selig Kaufman [z”l] [age: ~90] passed to his Olam Ha’Bah, on 27 Aviv/Nissan 5775 [15 April 2015], and will be sorely missed. He is survived by his wife Yospa, his son and his grandsons. The Temple Mount: Where is the Holy of Holies was published in 2004 by Har Yera'eh Press, Jerusalem.