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There were two temples in Jerusalem. I've seen conflicting statements about their heights. So this is a few questions in one:

  1. What was the average height (from the foundation) of each of the two temples?

  2. How tall was the highest point (from the foundation) of each of the two temples?

  3. How high above sea level was each of the two temples?

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First temple: 30 cubits tall (I Kings 6:2), with an entryway 120 cubits tall (II Chronicles 3:4).

Second temple: 100 cubits tall (Mishnah, Middot 4:6).

Elevation: the highest point of the present-day Temple Mount is about 740 meters above sea level. There are various theories about where on the mountain the temples were located, so they may have been a little lower than that.

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  • I saw that there are various theories about temple location, but does scholarship generally support the two temples being in exactly the same place as each other or not? Jan 9 '15 at 19:55
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    Jewish scholarship definitely does. Dunno about modern scholarship, but it's hard to see why they wouldn't have - it's easier to build on existing foundations.
    – user438
    Jan 9 '15 at 20:01
  • the jew's kept pretty good history over the location, as well as stayed in control of Jerusalem pretty much till the last temple was destroyed in like 70ish ad. i dont believe anyone who destroyed a templed stayed long enough to have fully removed the foundations, or built anything ontop of, before the jews reclaimed or moved back into Jerusalem.
    – Himarm
    Jan 9 '15 at 20:23
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    Anything's possible, but for reference a modern "storey" is about 3M each, so that would be the equivalent of a doorway about 18 stories high. Another alternative is that those numbers are witness estimates (likely from two different people), not architectural specs. People are notoriously bad at estimating vertical distances. Unfortunately, that would leave our poor OQ back where he started from. All we'd be able to say is "really high".
    – T.E.D.
    Aug 4 '15 at 19:20
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    T.E.D. asked "How exactly was the entryway 4 times taller than the building itself? Either you got something wrong, the Bible got something wrong, or they had really interesting architecture." Fortunately Christians never built such excessively high entrances. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/St._Peter%27s_Church,_Hamburg#/media/… or en.wikipedia.org/wiki/St._Martin%27s_Church,_Landshut or en.wikipedia.org/wiki/St._Olaf%27s_Church,_Tallinn or en.wikipedia.org/wiki/…
    – MAGolding
    Apr 20 '17 at 3:10
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Here is some evidence for the total vertical extension of the temple and for ihe temple mount.

This site discusses 5 theories about the location of the Jewish temple:

http://templemountlocation.com/templeLocationTheories.html

And discussing the theory of Dr. Martin, it says:

I read where Dr Martin said that the southeast corner was 300 cubits high according to Josephus and was built into the bedrock of the Kidron valley. The text does not say that at all. Josephus tells us. “The lowest part of this (lower court of the temple) was erected to the height of 300 cubits, and in some places more; yet did not the entire depth of the foundations appear, for they as being desirous to make them on a level with the narrow streets of the city; wherein they made use of stones of forty cubits in magnitude;”

This of course was speaking of the southwest corner where there were narrow streets of the city to bring the level up to. Not the Southeast comer where there were no streets.

So Josephus claimed that the retaining wall of the Temple Mount was 300 cubits tall in the southwest corner!

This site discusses various descriptions of the temple(s) in Josephus and other sources.

http://orion.mscc.huji.ac.il/symposiums/4th/papers/Schiffman99.html

A cubit was a length of about a man's forearm.

[QUOTE] The cubit was an ancient unit of length based on the distance from the elbow to the middle finger. It was primarily associated with the Sumerians, Egyptians and Israelites. "Cubits" is found in the Bible re: Noah's Ark, Ark of the Covenant, Tabernacle, Solomon's Temple. The common cubit was divided into 6 palms × 4 fingers = 24 digits.1 Royal cubits added a palm for 7 palms × 4 fingers = 28 digits.3 These lengths typically ranged from 444 to 529.2 mm, with an ancient Roman cubit being as long as 120 cm.

Cubits of various lengths were employed in many parts of the world in antiquity, during the Middle Ages and as recently as early modern times. The term is still used in hedgelaying, the length of the forearm being frequently used to determine the interval between stakes placed within the hedge.4 [/QUOTE]

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cubit

[QUOTE] The standard of the cubit (Hebrew: אמה‎) in different countries and in different ages has varied. This realization led the rabbis of the 2nd century CE to clarify the length of their cubit, saying that the measure of the cubit of which they have spoken "applies to the cubit of middle-size".[12] In this case, the requirement is to make use of a standard 6 handbreadths to each cubit,[13][14] and which handbreadth was not to be confused with an outstretched palm, but rather one that was clinched and which handbreadth has the standard width of 4 fingerbreadths (each fingerbreadth being equivalent to the width of a thumb, about 2.25 cm).[15][16] This puts the handbreadth at roughly 9 centimetres (3.5 in), and 6 handbreadths (1 cubit) at 54 centimetres (21 in) [/QUOTE]

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cubit#Rabbinical_cubit

The portico at the entrance of the temple was usually described at twice the height of the sanctuary itself. The temple was 30 or 60 cubits high, and the portico was 60 or 120 cubits high. At 18 to 21 inches per cubit, 30 cubits would be 540 to 630 inches, or 45 to 52.5 feet, or 13.716 to 12.952 meters, tall. 60 cubits would be 1,080 to1,260 inches, or 90 to 105 feet, or 27.432 to 32.004 meters, tall. 120 cubits would be 2,160 to 2,520 inches, or 180 to 210 feet, or 54.894 to 64.004 meters, tall.

So the protico at the front of the temple would have been a decent sized tower, whether it was 90 to 105, or 180 to 210, feet tall.

In the Wars of the Jews, book V. Chapter 5, Josephus describes the Temple of Herod beginnng with the temple platform:

[QUOTE] 1. Now this temple, as I have already said, was built upon a strong hill. At first the plain at the top was hardly sufficient for the holy house and the altar, for the ground about it was very uneven, and like a precipice; but when king Solomon, who was the person that built the temple, had built a wall to it on its east side, there was then added one cloister founded on a bank cast up for it, and on the other parts the holy house stood naked. But in future ages the people added new banks, 12 and the hill became a larger plain. They then broke down the wall on the north side, and took in as much as sufficed afterward for the compass of the entire temple. And when they had built walls on three sides of the temple round about, from the bottom of the hill, and had performed a work that was greater than could be hoped for, [in which work long ages were spent by them, as well as all their sacred treasures were exhausted, which were still replenished by those tributes which were sent to God from the whole habitable earth,] they then encompassed their upper courts with cloisters, as well as they [afterward] did the lowest [court of the] temple. The lowest part of this was erected to the height of three hundred cubits, and in some places more; yet did not the entire depth of the foundations appear, for they brought earth, and filled up the valleys, as being desirous to make them on a level with the narrow streets of the city; wherein they made use of stones of forty cubits in magnitude; for the great plenty of money they then had, and the liberality of the people, made this attempt of theirs to succeed to an incredible degree; and what could not be so much as hoped for as ever to be accomplished, was, by perseverance and length of time, brought to perfection. [/QUOTE]

https://www.gutenberg.org/files/2850/2850-h/2850-h.htm#link52HCH0005

So Josephus wrote that the retaining wall of the temple mount was up to 300 cubits high where the valley was lowest. At at 18 to 21 inches per cubit, the 300 cubit high wall would have been about 5,400 to 6,300 inches, or 450 to 525 feet, or 137.16 to 160 meters, tall.

And according to Josephus, the summit of Herod's temple would have been about 630 to 735 feet, or 192.024 to 224.028 meters, above the very bottom of the foundations of the retaining wall. That is a considerable vertical distance - if Jospehus is accurate.

Josephus may have exaggerated the height of the highest portions of the retaining wall.

[QUOTE] At the Western Wall Plaza, the total height of the Wall from its foundation is estimated at 105 feet (32 m), with the above-ground section standing approximately 62 feet (19 m) high. The Wall consists of 45 stone courses, 28 of them above ground and 17 underground.[20] The first seven above-ground layers are from the Herodian period. [/QUOTE]

​https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Western_Wall#Height,_courses,_building_stones​​​

Butmaybe the bedrock was much lower in other parts of the wall.

Of course this was the wall of the enclosure, and the foundations of the temple were not on that wall, but a considerable distance within it. There is considerable controversy about where the temple stood in the temple encloseure, but it is certain it wasn't built on the retaining wall of the temple enclosure.

Of course the majority of that height was the retaining wall of the enclosure, and the foundations of the temple were not on that wall, but a considerable distance within it. There is considerable controversy about where the temple stood in the temple encloseure, but it is certain it wasn't built on the retaining wall of the temple enclosure.

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