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…

Israel Rolls the Stone Away

As many of you know, one of my favorite daily studies (outside of Torah Club) is A Daily Dose of Torah from Artscroll. In the Torah Thought for the Day section this past Tuesday there was an interesting concept. It relates the story of when Jacob (although weary from his travels and lack of rest) met Rachel at the well, he was easily able to roll the stone off of the well single-handedly (where it was implied that it took many men to do this). This is interpreted midrashically as a portent of a future event in which the “great stone, symbolic of our sins, which prevents the exile from coming to an end, until Yaakov himself will come and remove it, like one removing a cork from a bottle.

I can easily see this representation in the rolling away of the stone of Yeshua’s burial site. When the stone was rolled away, Yeshua’s resurrection & his work of redemption & triumph over sin and death are realized, as Paul speaks about in 1 Corinthians 15:50-58:

I tell you this, brothers: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written:
“Death is swallowed up in victory.”
“O death, where is your victory?
O death, where is your sting?”
The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.
(1 Corinthians 15:50-58 ESV)

Stone Vessel with ‘Priestly Inscription’ Uncovered In Jerusalem

Vessel Inscription

Last week, Israel National News reported a very unique find has been made near the Zion Gate of the Old City of Jerusalem. It’s a limestone ritual vessel from the Second Temple period inscribed with not one, but 10 (ten!) lines of Hebrew or Aramaic text (which is still being debated). This is an extremely rare find, the first of its kind. Archaeologists say that because of the rare script used. Although the letters are very clear, they say it could take up to six months to translate the text, due to the unfamiliar cursive script. Can’t wait to find out what it says…

You can read the full report here:


Second Temple Stone Quarry Discovered

This Monday, Arutz Sheva posted news of a new archaeological discovery which is fascinating, especially to those of us who have recently attended the FFOZ Shavuot conference focusing on the Beit HaMikdash (the Holy Temple). Archaeologists have recently discovered a stone quarry used for the stones of the Herod’s Temple. More information can be found here: http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/132231