Temple Update: Sanhedrin Chamber of Hewn Stone Blueprints Revealed

Chamber of Hewn Stone blueprint
Aerial view of the Chamber of the Hewn Stone

Recently, the Temple Institute released the blueprints for the Chamber of the Hewn Stone (the Lishkat haGazit, in Hebrew), the area of the Temple complex in which the Sanhedrin would convene. This is very exciting to see, and makes the possibility of the Holy Temple’s rebuilding somewhat tangible. Even more so is the computer-generated, virtual “fly-through” that they have created as well. You can really visualize what it might be like.

If you’re not familiar with the Chamber of Hewn Stone, it probably because there’s not a great deal of information circulating about it. This chamber was used by the Sanhedrin for judgement. They would hear cases and deliberate upon them in this area.

When Israel became occupied by foreign powers, the Sanhedrin removed themselves from this location as an act of protest, since their power was essentially stripped from them (particularly in the area of capital cases). Although I had thought it took place much earlier, the Jewish Time Line Encyclopedia (p.93) says this took place in 29 C.E.

Some have claimed that this would have been where Jesus would have been taken and tried upon his arrest. However, there are several problems with this assumption, two of which are 1) The Sanhedrin could not try capital cases at night (Sanhedrin 35a-b), and 2) he was not tried by the Sanhedrin proper. He was sentenced before a kangaroo court, which did not legally have the authority to any sentence at all.

Also interesting is the fact that of all of the parts of the Holy Temple which they could have been the initial focus, the Chamber of the Hewn Stone was chosen. Why? According to the Temple Institute,

The Sanhedrin Chamber of Hewn Stone is but a single chamber in the northern wall of the Holy Temple. It was chosen as the initial focus of the blueprint project, not because of its architectural significance, per se, but because of its overwhelming spiritual significance to the world. The seventy elders of the Sanhedrin have been vested with the authority of the seventy elders whom G-d commanded Moshe to appoint in the desert…

These elders are not only judges, but also teachers who task is to ensure that “for out of Zion shall the Torah come forth, and the word of HaShem from Jerusalem.” (Isaiah 2:3).

But could this also be a dual fulfillment of prophecy? Psalm 118:22 says:

“This is the stone which was rejected by you builders, which has become the chief cornerstone.”

We know this is in fulfillment of Jesus, the Messiah. However, could it also be connected to the Chamber of Hewn Stone, the literal “stone” which was once rejected now becoming the “cornerstone” of the rebuilding of the House of God? Just a thought…

Israelites found in Ancient Egypt

Israelite house remains in Egypt

For a long time, archaeologists and biblical minimalists have renounced the idea of an Israelite captivity in Egypt corresponding to the biblical record of the Exodus. Today, evidence has been published to the contrary. Manfred Bietak, director of the Institute of Egyptology at the University of Vienna and of the Austrian Archaeological Institute in Cairo, has published an article in the Biblical Archaeology Review (BAR) citing several evidences of the existence of ancient Israelite slaves in Egypt.

Although he draws on a number of sources, Bietak’s impetus was the recent unearthing of Israelite-style four-room homes found among Medinet Habu, opposite Luxor in Egypt near the remains of the temple of Ay and Horemheb. He compares these homes to the many which have been found in excavations in the land of Israel, and notes the distinct similarities of pattern & function, making a clear point to say they are not Egyptian at all in design.

This is an important discovery by which archaeology begins corroborating the evidences of the biblical record yet again. And although the timeline doesn’t seem to entirely match, this is a great moment for those anyone who both appreciates the science of archaeology, but holds to the authority of the biblical record.

Read the very detailed article here.


In 2009 there was evidence found in Egypt of the biblical Joseph. The coins contained both Joseph’s Hebrew and Egyptian name, along with an image of a cow to represent Pharaoh’s dream. You can read about it here and here.

Police find 2nd Temple-era coins, jugs during arms raid

Jerusalem Post reports the following:

Police officers stumbled on a large stash of jugs and coins dating back from the Second Temple era in the Galilee village of Mazara on Thursday, during an arms raid.

The archeological finds were kept in a yard belonging to family suspected by police of keeping arms.

After finding the artifacts, a representative of the Israel Antiquities Authority was called out to the scene, and he dated the findings to the Second Temple period.

Read the full report here.

Justified By Love?

I recently read an interview with Christian artist, singer, songwriter Jennifer Knapp in which she not only announced her comeback to her music career after a seven year hiatus, but that she’s “come out of the closet” as a lesbian who has been in a same-sex relationship for the last eight years. This may come as a shock to Christian music fans, but this news is actually a few months old and is all over the internet.

I am not writing this post to condemn Knapp or spread lashon hara or to gay bash. The reason for this post is to show how traditional Christian interpretation of the Bible can be used to justify any sin, behavior or lifestyle. The traditional Christian perspective on the Bible and its focus on grace being opposed to the Law has provided the ammunition for tens of thousands of people around the globe to justify sinful lifestyles (not in the least bit limited to homosexuality).

Over the last decade I’ve heard of many Christian musicians “coming out of the closet,” (many of which hit you out of nowhere), many scandalous lifestyles, many countless adulterous relationships, divorce, drug addictions, etc. Why should one more be newsworthy? The reason Knapp’s confession makes the top of my news is because she was honest. What do I mean by that? Let’s listen to her own words.

Have you ever felt like you had to choose between your faith or your gay feelings?

Knapp: Yes. Absolutely.

Because you felt they were incompatible?

Knapp: Well, everyone around me made it absolutely clear that this is not an option for me, to invest in this other person—and for me to choose to do so would be a denial of my faith.

What about what Scripture says on the topic?

Knapp: The Bible has literally saved my life. I find myself between a rock and a hard place—between the conservative evangelical who uses what most people refer to as the “clobber verses” to refer to this loving relationship as an abomination, while they’re eating shellfish and wearing clothes of five different fabrics, and various other Scriptures we could argue about. I’m not capable of getting into the theological argument as to whether or not we should or shouldn’t allow homosexuals within our church. There’s a spirit that overrides that for me, and what I’ve been gravitating to in Christ and why I became a Christian in the first place.1

Notice her reference to Torah (the Law given to Moses):

“I find myself between a rock and a hard place—between the conservative evangelical who uses what most people refer to as the “clobber verses” to refer to this loving relationship as an abomination, while they’re eating shellfish and wearing clothes of five different fabrics.”

This is where she’s completely honest. If I were to put it in more plain terms, she’s saying, “If you can pick and choose what you want to obey in the Bible, so can I.” There it is. Hypocrisy in full swing. Unfortunately, the Evangelical Church has so much demonized the Hebrew Scriptures and their application to the Believer, that we no longer have a moral compass by which we are directed. We have reverted back to the days of the Judges in which “every man did right in his own eyes.”

What Jennifer Knapp is saying here is the truth of the matter. If we can justify living lives contrary to the directives of Hebrew Scriptures, saying that they are no longer authoritative, why should the New Testament Scriptures be any different? The Hebrew Scriptures were valid for the world for around two thousand years until Christianity decided they were no longer valid. Now the Christian Scriptures have had their fair shake for the last two thousand. Why should they be relevant any longer either? If God can abrogate his Word once, why can’t He do it again?

What makes a Christian any different from a “moral pagan” these days other than a creed? This is why Torah is invaluable, and the missing component in our walk of faith. If we want to stop justifying our sins, and truly become the people of God by which the Scriptures speak, we need to wake up and smell the coffee and allow the whole of Scripture to inform our life of faith.


  1. This interview with Jennifer knapp can be found on the Christianity Today website: http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/music/interviews/2010/jenniferknapp-apr10.html

Identity Theft Arrest Related to Dead Sea Scrolls Dispute

scroll2If you’re not familiar with the saga surrounding the discovery, acquisition, translation and subsequent publications of the Dead Sea Scrolls, you don’t have enough excitement in your life. For the latest criminal investigations involving a major case of lashon hara, read up on the latest article from the New York Times in which a debate regarding the identity of the Qumran community ends up in an arrest for identity theft.