Moriah, Golgotha and the Garden Tomb

Chapter 1: Mount Moriah (Genesis 22) - Part B

Genesis 22:3: “So Abraham rose early in the morning and saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him, and Isaac his son; and he split the wood for the burnt offering, and arose and went to the place of which God had told him.”

Abraham rose early for his 3 day journey. He is an example to us of quick obedience. If you delay to obey, you will either forget, or convince yourself not to do it. He knew that God had spoken, and that God could be trusted. He put aside all his natural excuses, emotions and reasonings. He didn’t let himself dwell in the mental arena, but he brought his thoughts captive to God’s Word. 

Genesis 22:4: “On the 3rd day, Abraham lifted up his eyes and saw the place afar off.” 

As they approached from the South, God showed him the Mount by a glory cloud (v2). To obey God, he had to offer Isaac in a specific place. It was essential this was done at the right location, because it would lay the foundation for all future sacrifices, and especially because it was where our Lord Jesus Himself would be offered up 2,000 years later. This was a prophetic picture, that had to be acted out in the very place where Jesus would be crucified. 

To Abraham, Isaac had died when God spoke, because he decided then to obey God. Thus he received him back ‘raised’ from the dead on the 3rd day, just like Jesus! 

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Mt.Moriah is on 3 levels. As Abraham approached from the South, he would have first come to the lower level which was the southern ridge, on which was the town of Jerusalem, where Melchizedek was king. 

1000 years later this was a Jebusite City, which David captured and made his capital. It is called the City of David. 

Above it, to the right, which is to the North, you can see a higher level of Mount Moriah upon which David’s son, Solomon built the Temple. 

How can we know which is the true Biblical Mount Moriah? Ask any observant Jew, and he will tell you where Mt. Moriah is, because it is central to their faith. The Jews have no doubt that Mt. Moriah is same Mount as the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, and in this they are on sure Biblical ground. They consider it the most holy place on earth, the place where Abraham offered up Isaac, the place that God has chosen for Himself. 

There is a Plaque erected at the Western (Wailing) Wall of the Temple Compound (below) which confirms the Jewish belief that this is where Abraham offered up Isaac, and where the Temple was built, and that God has chosen this special place to manifest His Glory: 

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We know where Mt.Moriah is, because 1000 years after Abraham, God revealed to King David that the Temple must be built on Mt.Moriah, the very same Hill where Abraham offered up Isaac. This is why the Temple Mount is the most holy and contested piece of real estate, even to this day.

In 2Samuel 24:16-25, the Angel of Judgement stood by the Threshing Floor of Ornan the Jebusite, on the higher ground (plateau) above the original City of David. He was ready to destroy Jerusalem. God told David to buy this Threshing Floor and build an Altar there, where he was to make atoning sacrifices to turn God’s Judgement away from Israel. 

2Samuel 24:24: “So David bought the Threshing Floor and the oxen for 50 shekels of silver.” 

The story is also told in 1Chronicles 21:16-28, but this time we are told that: “he paid 600 shekels of gold for the Place” (v25). 

Thus, we see that David must have bought the whole Mountain as well as the Threshing Floor, since he realised it was all holy ground. 

When David saw that the Lord had answered him on the Threshing Floor of Ornan, he continued to sacrifice there (v28). 

Soon after, Solomon built the Temple on this same ground that God had revealed to David as being a Holy Place for Sacrifice: 

2Chronicles 3:1: “Now Solomon began to build the House (Temple) of the LORD at Jerusalem on Mount Moriah, where the LORD had appeared to his father David, at the place that David had prepared on the Threshing Floor of Ornan the Jebusite.” 

This is the only other mention of Mt.Moriah in the Bible apart from Genesis 22. Therefore, it is crucial in determining the location of Mt.Moriah. Notice from 2Chronicles 3:1 that the Mount where the Temple was built is called Mount Moriah, the very same Mount where Abraham offered up Isaac! 

Therefore, if the Bible is to be trusted, Mount Moriah, the Mount where the Lord promised to provide Himself as the final Sacrifice in Genesis 22, is the very same Mount where the Temple was built. 

So, in Solomon’s time, there was the City of David, and then above it (to the right in the pictures opposite), stood the Temple on the higher level, which a flat platform top that had been used as a Threshing Floor, for this is where God told David the Altar of the Temple had to be. 

The Bible very clearly says that Mt. Moriah is the same Mount upon which the Temple stood. This fact (which is often overlooked) is essential in determining the location of Christ’s Death and Resurrection, as we shall see.

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This large scale model of Jerusalem at the time of Christ (below), now at the Israel Museum, shows the view of the Temple from the bottom of Mt.Moriah at the South, as it looked then.

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Looking from the South, the Temple Mount towers over the Southern Ridge where the City of David is. Its higher elevation, on the sides of the north, signifies its greater holiness and suitability for the location of God’s Temple, where Israel’s sacrifices would all be offered:

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Notice that the Temple Platform is not the Peak of Mt.Moriah, for as you go up further north, the Mount goes up even higher:
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From then on, all sacrifices had to be made at the Temple, on Mt. Moriah. They were invalid otherwise. Why? Because that was the holy place that God had chosen and marked out for His Sacrifices, through the foundational Sacrifice of Abraham offering up Isaac. In this way, all the sacrifices pointed forward to the Great Sacrifice of Christ, that was going to be made on the very same Mount. 

The Jewish Temple was destroyed by the Romans in AD 70. 
Then, in the 7th Century, the Dome of the Rock, a striking golden topped Islamic monument was built above where the Temple stood.

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In Jesus’ time, of course, the Temple of God stood at this spot, 
rather than the Dome of the Rock:

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It is called the Dome of the Rock, because it is built above a piece of natural bare rock called the Foundation Stone, which is the highest point of the Temple Platform, where the Holy-of-Holies was.

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The Foundation Stone was the place where the Holy-of-Holies stood in the Temple. As the highest point of the Temple Platform, it was also the holiest. The Jews consider it the holiest place on earth. 


The Rock has suffered somewhat at the hands of men over the last 2000 years, but you can still make out the rectangle cut out in the Rock where the Ark of the Covenant would have been placed: 

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I believe that Abraham did not offer up Isaac where the Temple Platform is now, because this is NOT the highest point of Mt.Moriah. As you go further north, Mt Moriah goes up to an even higher level. Now sacrifices were generally made at the high places, so therefore Abraham would not have offered up Isaac on the Flat Platform, which was on the way up to the top of Mount. He would surely have done it at the Peak of Moriah, to the north of the present walls of Jerusalem. 


Above the Temple Platform, there was a higher level still, which is where Abraham must have offered up Isaac.

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So, when Abraham and Isaac reached the place of the Temple Platform, this was a resting point where they would have prepared for their final ascent to the northern peak of Moriah, the place where God commanded him to sacrifice Isaac.

You can follow his ascent on the Contour Map (opposite), starting at the Southern Ridge (marked the City of David), then going north up to the higher Flat Area (marked as the Temple Mount), and then further north and higher still onto the Peak of Mt.Moriah (marked on the Contour Map as ‘Golgotha’, meaning the Place of the Skull). This is outside the present Northern Walls of Jerusalem, yet it is part of the Mount as what we call the Temple-Mount today. It is at this Peak of Mt.Moriah that Abraham must have offered up Isaac. 

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Genesis 22:5: So as they all stood on the Temple-Platform area: “Abraham said to the young men, ‘Abide here with the ass; and I and the lad will go up yonder (to the Peak) and worship (‘to bow down, to submit the will’) and (we will) come again to you.” 

Isaac was no child. Although he was called a ‘lad’, the word used for Isaac is the same word as that for the other ‘young men’, so it be better translated as ‘the young man. He was probably 33. Therefore Abraham was not forcing this son; Isaac was co-operating.

Notice, Abraham said that they would both return. This shows that he believed that God would raise up Isaac, even from the ashes! He knew all the promises that God had made to him concerning Isaac, so he knew God would have to raise him from the dead in order to fulfil His Covenant Promises.

This is confirmed by the New Testament in Hebrews 11:17-19: 

“By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac: he who had received the promises offered up his only begotten son, of whom it was said, ‘That in Isaac shall your seed be called’, 
accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead; from which also he received him in a Figure (Picture).”

Thus, the events on Mt.Moriah were not just a ‘Picture’ of Christ’s Death 2000 years later, but also of His Resurrection.

Genesis 22:6a: “Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering, and laid it on Isaac his son.”

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