|Click to Enlarge North,Temple Mount. East, Mount of Olives, West, City of David|
Although the First and Second Temples were built in the area contained by the Temple Mount, before the First Temple the city graves were not oriented in that direction. Instead, on the other side of the Kidron Valley, opposite the City's Gihon Spring graves appear to acknowledge its' holiness by their orientation toward it. Over thousands of years, as grave sites were carved in the bedrock of the opposite slope hugging the Kidron Valley, construction of new graves eventually crept north toward the available, upper sections of the Mount of Olives.
On the high ridge above the Gihon Spring (see double circle, left in above image) one of the most remarkable discoveries has been made. In context, features in the immediate vicinity include the Gihon Pool, which contained water used for ritual immersion and sacrificial purpose, the stepped structures from the pool to the high ridge, the fortress that once protected the water and the cave dwellings that housed the privileged few before a walled city ever existed. On the high ridge are four rooms carved out of bedrock, I have written extensively on these rooms in the past. However, on a recent trip I learned that a containing wall had been removed during the archaeological excavation to provide access. Further that the earth between the walls was soft land fill, as opposed to pottery and rough stones in dirt, common to the fill discovered on the other part of the slopes.
|Click to enlarge -High Ridge of the Gihon Spring, rooms carved in bedrock. Two walls containing soft land fill|
According to most opinions, the containing walls were built by King Hezekiah when constructing the tunnels that carried water from the Gihon Spring deeper into the City, exclusively to fill the Pool of Siloam. Why did this area merit such careful treatment 2750 years ago? Treatment that ensured its most fragile artifact, the stone monument or matzevah remained erect and intact, when almost nothing else in the City did.
In a short thesis I wrote about the Origin of Jerusalem I maintain the original stepped structures around the Gihon Pool were not designed to protect water as is the common view, but to elevate the sanctity of the holy place at the High Ridge of the Gihon Spring. If indeed the High Ridge is a remnant of the earliest holy site in Jerusalem and the monument turns out, as I believe, to be the one erected by Jacob, then according to Jewish sources and Jewish law, it will also be the location of the holy altar of the Jerusalem's Third Temple.
They say if it walks, quacks and looks like a duck, its a duck! Its not surprising the discovery of loose objects of idolatry in the immediate vicinity were also discovered, but that does not simply render this a Canaanite site. It seems throughout history idolatry was Israel's constant nemesis, its time to look at this holy site and see it for what it is.