Damien F. Mackey
‘Do you see all these great buildings?’ Jesus replied.
‘Not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be toppled’.
(Matthew 24:2; Mark 13:2; Luke 21:6)
So we are inclined to wonder, when we visit the ancient city of Jerusalem, what in the world are all of those massive stones doing there still standing in place?
Well, thankfully, the following short article by Dr. Ernest L. Martin - supplemented by other related works of his - (such as “The Temples that Jerusalem Forgot”) - explains just what is going on here. Those massive stones that one sees standing in place in Old Jerusalem have absolutely no connection at all to the ancient Temple of Yahweh. Dr. Martin wrote (http://www.askelm.com/temple/t970504.htm):
That grand and majestic Temple … that Christ and the apostles beheld and admired … with all its inner and outer buildings, AND ALL ITS WALLS, was completely and thoroughly destroyed to the extent that when Titus the Roman General (the later emperor) viewed the city of Jerusalem after its destruction in A.D.70, he marveled that no one (because of the utter destruction of the Temple and City) would have believed that there had once been a City in that area (War VII.1,1). This accurate eye-witness description of the absolute ruined state of the Temple and Jerusalem dovetails precisely with the prophetic teaching of our Lord Himself, Christ Jesus. Remember that He told the disciples on the Mount of Olives about two days before His crucifixion that "not a stone" would be left on top of one another of ANY of the buildings or structures of the complete Temple (the outer and inner Temple). All would be thoroughly leveled to the ground with not a single stone on top of one another (Matthew 24:1-3).
Everyone knows, however, that when a person (even today in our modern period) observes the City of Jerusalem from the same Mount of Olives from which Titus viewed the ruined City of Jerusalem, we see in front of us a gigantic walled enclosure that is most grand and majestic made of huge and wondrous stones (all neatly placed one on top of one another in its lower courses) which surround very nicely the whole area of the Dome of the Rock (the region now called the Haram esh-Sharif). In fact, it can be stated most dogmatically that Titus the Roman General would have seen the same walls that you and I are able to observe today. The truth is, however, when Titus viewed the ruin of the Temple and the City of Jerusalem, he EXCLUDED those walls surrounding the area of the Dome of the Rock because THOSE WALLS DID NOT surround the Temple Mount. The Temple and its walls had been destroyed completely and thoroughly just as Christ said they would be. The walls that Titus saw (and that we observe today) WERE NOT the walls around the Temple. They were the walls that surrounded the Roman military fortress called by Herod the "Antonia."
The "Fortress of Antonia" is described by Josephus (not as a little dinky fort on the northwest side of the Temple), but as a VAST FORTRESS so large that it resembled a city within a city – with great expanses of land for military camps and with accommodations available to support an entire Roman Legion (about 6000 armed men, who with support staff equaled at least 12,000 people). This Roman Fortress of Antonia became the headquarters of the Tenth Legion left in Jerusalem by Titus (and Titus also provided a small garrison on the southwest hill near where Herod’s palace used to be). The Antonia was much larger than most scholars suppose. Read the proper translation of Josephus by Whiston in War V.5,8. The Antonia was a VERY LARGE FORTRESS.
Indeed, we have the eyewitness account of Eleazer (the Jewish leader of the remnant Jews who killed themselves at Masada about three years after the Temple and the City of Jerusalem were completely destroyed to the bedrock by Titus and his four legions). Note what Eleazer said in War VI.8,7:
"And where is now that great city, the metropolis of the Jewish nation, which was fortified by so many walls round about, which had so many fortresses and large towers to defend it, which could hardly contain the instruments prepared for the war, and which had so many ten thousands of men to fight for it? Where is this city that was believed to have God himself inhabiting therein? IT IS NOW DEMOLISHED TO THE VERY FOUNDATIONS, AND HATH NOTHING LEFT BUT THAT MONUMENT OF IT PRESERVED, I MEAN THE CAMP OF THOSE THAT HATH DESTROYED IT, WHICH STILL DWELLS UPON ITS RUINS; some unfortunate old men also lie upon the ashes of the temple, and a few women are there preserved alive by the enemy, for our bitter shame and reproach" (emphasis mine).
The Monument that Titus preserved was the Camp of the Romans (called the "Fortress of Antonia"). That Fortress was always Roman property and NOT a part of the City of Jerusalem to begin with. That Monument of Rome’s power and greatness is still with us to this day, and we can still see its walls from the Mount of Olives. But look what has happened. ALL Jews, ALL Muslims, ALL Christians and ALL historians (up to now) have mistakenly called the site of that Roman Camp the actual site of the Holy Temple of God. What a miscalculation and misjudgment! They have selected a Roman Military Camp with its Temple of Caesar as Jupiter in its center (as all Roman camps had) as the holiest place on earth! Those walls that we now see from the Mount of Olives are the walls of "Fort Antonia." That area surrounded by those walls is no more the true site of the Temples of Solomon, Zerubbabel, Simon the Hasmonean and Herod than the Empire State Building in New York is the site.
The truth is, all of us should have paid attention to what our Lord (Christ Jesus) told us and we should have believed Him. He said there would not be one stone of the Temple (both the inner and outer parts – including its walls) that would be left on one another, and His prophecy has been fulfilled precisely. But what have people done? They have avoided Christ’s teaching and opted to make holy and sanctified a Roman Military Camp (with its walls still in existence from the time of Titus) as the Temple Mount. This is a big mistake. What an anachronism! The religious authorites have substituted the Site of Jupiter's Temple at "Fort Antonia" as the Temple site of God. This is wrong. It is time that we all get back to the truth of the Scriptures and history and forget the erroneous and dangerous teachings that we have ALL inherited from "tradition."
[end of quotes]
It was most fitting that the old stone Temple had to disappear entirely, because, now: