Sunday, August 24, 2014

The Extraordinary Original Kotel!

Tension, war and divergent world views juxtapose excitement at the City of David where opinions of archaeologists, students and operators are converging as excavations illustrate and inform long held narratives and traditions. This crucial land, immediately south of Jerusalem’s Temple Mount is fast becoming one of the most important excavations in history because Judaism, Christianity and Islam are directly vested in its outcome.

Ancient walls were built for many reasons, but a recent east facing wall discovered at the City of David was built to protect the ancient city. However, the soft earth discovered at its footings was deliberately placed to conceal important bedrock artifacts in the area immediately in front (east). These unique areas have not seen the light of day for more than 2600 years. The archaeological signs suggest that the concealed area behind the wall (west) housed the Ark of The Covenant where it would have rested for several decades before it was re-located to the Temple built by King Solomon.

Who built this First Temple period wall remains a mystery, but pinning down the responsible King will establish many supporting theories that interconnect and color the narrative. I constructed the visual collage below to compare the map archaeologist Montague Parker sketched almost 100 years ago when the bedrock was more accessible than it is today. I placed excavation images on the rendition backdrop of the Gihon Spring House (bottom right of image) demonstrate the context. As new discoveries are being made, Parker's map (below) detail evidently depicts overlapping features at various layers of earth from the top of the hillside to the valley floor..
The A Wall (above ground wall) was exposed for the first time in July 2014, but the B Wall (below ground wall), which was uncovered in 2008/9 remains housed below temporary ground covering. The present excavation boundary, of the underground B Wall stopped at its East facing wall. The new excavation objective of the above ground A Wall is to obtain western access behind the wall to assess the undiscovered archaeological features of the circled Area ‘G’ (also marked as G on the Parker map) and beyond.

3D Parker.JPG

In the upper left image marked ‘A’, I recently stood on the wall’s parapet inspecting the latest discovery and checking its relationship to the Parker Map. Area ‘B’ are the now familiar bedrock ‘V’ markings probably used to facilitate the dissection and preparation of sacrificed animals. Area ‘C’ is the matsevah (monument), which I believe was erected by Jacob. Area ‘D’ is the underground ziggurat structure leading from the Gihon pool to the upper ridge. I believe this was also constructed by Jacob almost 1000 years before the city wall was constructed. The cave home at Area ‘E’ (‘K’ on Parker’s map) may have been constructed by Shem, the RIghteous King of Salem several hundred years before Jacob’s constructions at this site.

The Wall.JPG

At this point it remains possible that area ‘G’ (on Parker’s map) is a room that is also capable of qualifying as a frame of the ramp to an altar. Frames like this were once filled with local stones and rocks during occasional sacrifices brought periodically through centuries of use. The area on which the lower section of the wall (The B Wall) is built will be revealed by the present excavation that will shortly allow archaeological teams to investigate its western face from the west.

This western wall face would not be the same as its famous Kotel counterpart the Wailing Wall, but an excavation that develops in the direction suggested would rapidly make an historical and spiritual dwarf of everything constructed on the Temple Mount higher up the mountain. It would be very hard for archaeological academia or intellectual students of Torah to ignore the signs appearing at the City of David, at some point they will be compelled to establish a view. As things stand, I’m convinced and if you don’t get the magnitude, follow the links in this article to learn more.

Friday, August 1, 2014

The Cruelest Cut!

The Temple Mount - Southern Wall - Hulda Gates
In a beautiful Jerusalem hotel, in the peak of Summer season I am alone, the only guest eating breakfast in an entire hotel of more than 200 rooms. Where are the families, the business people, the fans of this great city? I’m reminded of the words of Prophet Yirmiyahu (Jeremiah) inscribed in the years before Jerusalem’s destruction: “How does the city sit solitary, that was full of people. How has she become as a widow. She that was great among the nations, and princess among the provinces, how has she become tributary. She weepeth sore in the night, and her tears are on her cheeks; she hath none to comfort her among all her lovers; all her friends have dealt treacherously with her, they are become her enemies.”

In Jew savaged Europe on Tisha B’Av, Napoleon once entered a village synagogue where mourners were lamenting over their destroyed Temple. There he stated; “A nation that cries and fasts for 2,000 years for their Temple will surely be rewarded with its rebuilding”. Little has changed, today Jews struggle to find sanctity in nations around the world, Israel fights wars on its borders, the media preys on the ever popular Jewish negative image and exiled Jews postpone their time to be present in Israel, body and soul. I’m not talking about a 50% decline in inbound tourism, it’s more than 90% in the top end hotels that would normally be teeming with guests. Being present in Israel at a time of conflict is a serious commitment, but for the most part many of her cities remain unaffected.

Israel’s diplomatic machine is spinning to offset the global conditions closing in on her Jews in their other nations. Despite these unfamiliar geo-political occurrences, the magnetism of Israels strengthening Jewish cultural core continues to carry the loudest voice. In times of war when even the anti-religious dedicate time to lay tefillin or light candles and the cry for the Temple grows ever louder, loyalty to Israel's Torah ideal is more evident. Jerusalem’s Temple complexities on The Temple Mount are notorious. Jewish practices not to shave, launder clothes or eat meat for the first nine days of the Hebrew month of Av, the day of the destruction, amplify sentiments. Luxuries are denied by loyal Jewish families who yearn for the Temple rebuilding.

Most who connect with the Temple ideal fixate on the reclamation and building on the Temple Mount site. But, a location for the Temple altar has to first be decided by at least an authoritative body before a building can be planned on it's site on Mount Moriah. The authoritative religious body must be widely supported across the spectra of Judaism. It must arise to determine the nations legislation in deference to its Biblical or Talmudic law so that resolutions can be determined and new instructions issued before a new building can be erected.

Jerusalem's Temple will be built once the greater city is optimally prepared for its erection and can capitalize on the economic benefits that flow from it. Such benefits hold great hope for the eradication of poverty that presently distorts and exaggerates the importance of Israel's insurgents. Demand ushers in the developing opportunity for the realization of such an event. Napoleon was right, the Temple will be rebuilt because inherent in Jewish culture is a deep conviction to see it's return. Despite the views of Jews like M'eretz political party's Erel Margalit who has abandoned the ideal and opposes such activism, the traditional lament grows stronger. The Temple ideal directly serves Israel's spiritual and economic interest and for these reasons alone, even the most extreme opposition will progressively be muted as the nation discovers, adjusts and moves toward its internalized, native insurgency for peace.