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Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Gihon Excavations


This map, with hot-links to the extensive Gihon excavations at the City of David, Jerusalem has been compiled to help understand the context and magnitude of these discoveries on the eastern slope of Mount Moriah. Zoom in or expand to full screen.

PDF alternative to Lucid Chart available here.

Monday, May 6, 2019

From Missiles on Sderot To a Terrorist in Poway

Missiles fired from Gaza to Sderot
In everything there is a lesson to be learned as the Israeli family from Sderot who recently moved to Poway, California discovered.

The elderly Isaac became blind because, as is warned against in the Gemara (Megila 28) he had too often gazed into the eyes of his evil son Esau. Isaac's good son Jacob on his return, after 20 years in exile was injured in his hip, lamed in a battle with the angel of his evil brother Esau, who bestowed on him the name Israel for prevailing over him.

The Gemara added that Avimelech, King of the Philistines cursed Isaac's mother Sara, when he found out that she was the wife, not the sister of Abram. Commentary about the curse centered on the word K'SooS[T], which normally means a garment, but suggested punctuation on the same letters could have rendered the word K'SiyaS[T], which would mean a cover - over your eyes. Its use in a curse would have meant to loose your eyesight, which is what had happened to Sara's son - Isaac. The Gemara accepts both reasons as valid.

After Avimelech's shepherds attacked Issac's wells, Isaac agreed with Avimelech to extend his father Abraham's peace-pact permitting all future decedents of the Philistine King to reside in the land of Isaac's inheritance.  But, peace with the Kings antagonistic subjects was short lived, fragile at best. For his weakness in pursuit of improbable peace, Isaac was nick-named - "The Blind" and after Jacob returned to the home of his father the antagonists nick-named him "The Lame" because of his injured hip. Together they became known as The Lame and The Blind!

The coast in Aza, today known as Gaza, was once home to the Philistine antagonists. But, 10 Kilometers east, along the ridge of central hill territory their antagonist cousins occupied Isaac's inherited land spanning north from the Town of Four (Kiryat Arba) to Mount Moriah. Not long after Isaac's death, Jacob and his family of 70 escaped severe drought by immigrating to Egypt leaving behind the land he inherited, but had struggled to possess.

Mount Moriah (looking north) - Jerusalem - time of Joshua 
For the entire 210 years of Israel's sojourn in Egypt the antagonists were free to spread their occupation and entrench themselves in the important cities of Kiryat Arba (which is Hebron) and Jerusalem on the lower southern slopes of  Mount Moriah. Empowered, by their false beliefs narratives of The Lame and The Blind became entrenched in their antagonistic cultures as they mocked Israel.

Egypt provided a protected environment for the family of Israel to flourish. Jacob's son Joseph, who preceded their arrival had been empowered as the Egypts viceroy which provided the basis for the fledgling family of Israel to spread their influence. The family grew to millions, but toward the latter years, after Egypt's Pharaohs turned against them the path was established for their return to the land of their inheritance. Egypt's political alliances followed their direct family relationships to the Philistines along the Mediterranean coast and cousins to the inland mountain ridge, where news of Israel's rise against and threat of departure from Egypt spread.

The central hill antagonists anticipated Israel's return to their beloved Mount Moriah, the source of their inheritance:- The place, Noah's son Shem had practiced as the high priest of Salem, to whom Abraham had tithed his wealth, from whom Abraham descended:- The place Abraham had offered his son Isaac as a sacrifice :- The place Jacob had erected a standing stone, pillar or matzevah as a covenant to build the House of God. Intent on stopping their repossession, the antagonists lobbied their regional allies to provide labor and skilled stonemasons to erect a massive structure up the eastern slope of Mount Moriah and block the sacred places that Israel would no doubt seek on their return.

Quarry - cutting access across eastern slope of Mount Moriah
To the sacred place on the eastern slope

Quarrying massive stones from the adjacent rock plateau, they hacked Mount Moriah's lower, eastern mountain-side to ensure any prior access to the sacred places was forever impassable. One by one massive cut-boulders were lifted on top of each other progressively rising from valley floor up a steep slope to the most sacred place, 120 meters above the valley floor. The massive structure resembling a ziggurat, an ascending stepped structure and the quarry remnant would forever alter the landscape of the once naive, east facing slope of Mount Moriah.

The first of Israel's spies to return to this place could not believe what they saw. Their experience with the pyramids in Egypt must have led them to believe such similar structure on Mount Moriah was beyond human. It shook them to the core, shattered their confidence, motivated them to publicly express anxiety, report dangerous tidings and ultimately delayed Israel's return to their land by 40 years.

When Israel under Joshua finally entered the land of their inheritance and made their way to Mount Moriah, the antagonists were waiting on the very structure they had constructed in preparation. From their strategic vantage point they beat on drums, threw stones,  displayed their idols and shouted reminders that Israel, the ascendants of The Lame and The Blind had an obligation and responsibility to honor their pact with the central hill antagonists and their Gaza kin. It took 300 more years before a brave King David (2 Samuel 5:8) finally antagonized the antagonists in a manner that induced their co-existence.

Rabbi Goldstein on the White House Lawn
Like those before them, today the antagonists of Gaza antagonize their neighboring Israeli residents with a constant barrage of missiles on places like Sderot. Israel cannot hide from antagonists, only their constant strong-arm, offensive, counter-antagonistic strategies will mimic the tactic of King David to neutralize the behavior of antagonists who otherwise will forever recall the curse of Avimelech. Israel must adopt the attitude of the Rabbi of Poway, who avenged the dead and injured to change the curse of terror to the blessing of peace!

























Monday, April 22, 2019

Israel Echoes From Zion!

I’m done dreaming of Moshiach (Messiah) because Israel’s 2019 election result has ushered in a new reality. 13 of the seats to the far right (in the chart below) are religious parties that represent a growing trend in Israel politics. Further, the New Right party of Naftali Bennett closely missed the voter threshold, all their votes, which otherwise would have obtained 4 seats, were wasted. Imagine in the next election another 4 seats to the right wing, conservative religious parties will be delivered simply because demographically more young voters will be from this block. Then, the combined strength of the far right religious parties will be at least 25 seats as opposed to the 21 they just obtained.


Israel's 2019 balance of power

One of the most intriguing pre-election party battles was won by Bezalel Smotrich during the formation of the Right Union. Naftali Bennett abdicated to his New Right party so, Bezalel beat the old guard National Union, incorporated Kahanists and engraved clarity to this party’s future. His execution was swift and very impressive. With a Right Union party in place, chances are good that the next generation of young voters will significantly boost its numbers at the next election. Of the 25 religious conservative seats, I expect Right Union could obtain 9 or 10 seats making them the largest conservative, religions right wing party.

Three well ordered events must occur in order that millions of Jews and hundreds of millions of Christians can realize their dreams of Moshiach. Think of these events as keys that unlock the great mystery, the one which the world has been waiting. But, I am not writing of mystery, instead I am writing of fact that Israeli society is becoming more religious and that the religious tend to vote for religious, conservative right wing politicians.

The first of these three events is underway. It occurs through the realignment of Israel’s political democracy through the Religious Ministry. The minister is responsible, in part for appointing the nations 300+ Rabbis who obtain their life-time nominations by a nationally representative electoral process. The regime is as old as the state of Israel, as are some of its appointees, but revival of its cultural and strategic importance make it the perfect vehicle for national religious, political revolution. Modern, qualified Rabbi’s being appointed to replace the old guard carry the burning torches of their constituents. Further, their group political empowerment is a short legislative bridge to self-determination and governmental representation in the form of Israel’s first upper house, the equivalent of its House of Lords.

With a Rabbinical upper-house Israel will restore its sovereign identity, once known as a Sanhedrin and with it the capacity to rule in all matters of law, both secular and religious. For the first time in thousands of years Israel will be in a position to converge laws, not because secular law can be invented, but because religious law, under such a recognized legal-religious body can ultimately adapt to unify the principles of its national law for all Israel.

The second of these three events, can only take place after Israel’s Upper House of elected Rabbi’s is legislated and Rabbi’s are seated as the nations representatives. As this Upper House realizes its popular, cultural, religious and spiritual duty it will be empowered to fulfil its legal responsibility to re-appoint the nations sovereign. In addition to the national Prime Minister and its President, the royal house of David and the appointment of a King over all Israel will finally be in the hands of the nation to realize its full identity. Israel’s land law’s and much of its present legislative processes are enhanced by the appointment of its Sovereign and only its Upper House of religious representatives has the power to ratify this appointment.

In the final step, with the appointment of the nations King and the re-establishment of the royal house all of the ceremonial functions of the King can be realized. This is expected to be an enormous boost to the nations constituents in spiritual and economic terms, particularly as a result of tourism and related industries that flow benefits to citizens of the country. The King with support of the nations President, Prime Minister, Cabinet and Upper and Lower Houses will then, by popular demand oversee the rebuilding of the third and final temple in Jerusalem.

These are the reasons I no-longer dream of Moshiach, because I am close enough to Israel and its people to see and know that the nation is well on the way to realizing its cultural destiny. And if you think some may derail this train, like they did at Gush Katif, think again, Israel is bound to this cultural and indigenous destiny, its only a matter of time. 

Saturday, April 6, 2019

2900 Year Jerusalem Mystery Solved!

The most significant and immovable artifact at the City of David has been protected by a steel locked box since its discovery in 2011. Understanding its origin, especially in context of its location has been aided by the recent discovery of a small 2600 year old seal that once belonged to a man named Nathan, servant of King Josiah, mentioned in 2 Kings 23:11 of the Bible.  However, the geophysical location of the artifact and recorded events surrounding Nathan, servant of King Josiah are trans-formative in resolving the artifacts interpretation. Three verses of chapter 23 are pivotal:

23:4 And the king commanded Hilkiah the high priest and the priests of the second rank and the guards of the threshold, to take out of the Temple of the Lord all the utensils that were made for the Baal and for the asherah, and for the entire host of the heaven, and he burnt them outside Jerusalem in the plains of Kidron, and he carried their ashes to Bethel.

23:11 And he abolished the horses that the kings of Judah had dedicated to the sun, from the entrance of the house of the Lord until the chamber of Nathan-melech the eunuch who was in the outskirts, and he burnt the sun chariots with fire.

23:15 And also the altar that was in Bethel, the high place that Jeroboam the son of Nebat-who caused Israel to sin-had made, also that altar and the high place he demolished, and he burnt the high place; he pulverized it and burnt the asherah.

Eli Shukron, the archaeologist who discovered the protected artifact, known as a standing stone or matzevah was prompted by a question; “Eli- is there any chance the stone was from Genesis (the one Jacob erected)?” 


As you can see @7:40 minutes into the video Eli answered; "..yes, maybe Jacob was here, but this is not the stone of Jacob because we are talking about Jerusalem".

300 years before King Josiah and Nathan - melech the eunuch, King Jeroboam erected the altar at Bethel on the border of the territory of Benjamin and Ephraim. During the ceremony a prophet was sent to announce its future destruction by a man named Josiah. These events of chapter 23 capture the moment the prophecy came true when King Josiah destroyed the altar of Jeroboam at Bethel (north of Jerusalem). Ever since this time, the location of the original Beit El, of Jacob has been lost to the nation of Israel.

Jeroboam's prevailing geologic continues to plague the modern nation. Eli, like many others is confused because modern Bethel (~10 km north of Jerusalem) considered to be named by Jacob is not the location Jacob erected the standing stone at the place he named Beit El. Miraculously, the recent discovery of Nathan - melech the eunuch's seal comes to resolve this longstanding error.

We read in 23:11 that the chamber of Nathan -melech was on the outskirts of the temple, therefore  it may have been the very location his seal was discovered in the Givati excavation shown @0:37 into the next video.


Remarkably, the dispute between Bethel north of Jerusalem and Beit El of Jerusalem is now resolved because the only reference in the entire 24 books of the Bible that can possibly have resolved this conflict is verse 23:4. Indisputably this is the area outside Jerusalem (the tiny ancient city on Mount Moriah) and the plains of the Kidron Valley, where the wooden idols were burned to ashes and Beit El, the place where the ashes were carried and deposited. Hilkiah the High priest did not walk, ride, drive or fly to Bethel ~10km north of Jerusalem to deposit these ashes and that is in direct opposition to Eli Shukron's denial that the standing stone is Jacob's Beit El in Jerusalem.

To this day, the matzevah or standing stone of Jacob remains locked in its steel box and each time I think of it I'm inspired to continue my struggle to correct the long, perplexing, disinformation campaign Jeroboam imposed on Israel, which was confounded by the prophet who came from Judah, who was mauled to death by a lion that was waiting on the road with a donkey - wow!

The matzevah of Jacob



Monday, March 11, 2019

City of David is Zion - What is the Temple Mount?

Altar built on a bedrock platform or foundation
The first temple was constructed by King Solomon around the co-ordinates of the sacrificial altar King David had built on Aravnah's (Ornan's) land. On the day of its dedication the priests carried the Ark of the Covenant from the City of David, which is Zion (1 Kings 8:1) where it had been located for 37 years. Some 400 years later, the first temple was destroyed and the Jewish people exiled to Persia. To this day Purim, as it became known is the annual festival that celebrates the hidden miracle in which the exiled Jewish people were saved from certain destruction.

Following the original Purim festivities, Jews were granted permission to return to Jerusalem to reconstruct their temple that had been destroyed 70 years earlier in the year 423 BCE . Haggai was a prophet of the Persian exile who foresaw the first temple reconstruction and final temple building. (2:9) The glory of this later house will be greater than the former said the Lord of hosts; and in this place I will grant peace. He had announced his prophecy and when King Darius II of Persia was appointed, the previous vassal Zerubavel oversaw the Jewish return to Jerusalem and their second attempt to rebuild. Only some Jewish leaders returned, but Haggai also foresaw something that troubled him...

In the shortest chapters of the Bible, Haggai enters and exits with few words. In his rare prophecy God asked Haggai to direct two questions of Jewish law at the priests who were to serve in the reconstructed temple. Their answer was deemed incorrect. Strangely, these educated priests and leaders of the Jewish people were very familiar with Jewish law and all were focused on locating the place of the altar from where coordinates for the temple reconstruction would be obtained.

Bedrock foundation for Altar of Zion in City of David
Texts also recall that the skull of Aravnah, the Jebusite king who sold his threshing floor to King David was found underneath the altar by Haggai. It had previously been found by King Hezekiah who wrongly inculcated the month of Nissan to purify the nation after they discovered the skull under the altar, almost 125 years prior to Haggai's prophecy. Why was this skull still present under the altar and how did it fit with Jewish law that the altar be constructed on a raised bedrock foundation?

While the temple was still in ruins, the priests had offered sacrifices on the foundation rock where they deemed the first temple altar to have been 70 years prior. In this context, Haggai's ongoing prophecy (2:14) is puzzling. "Such is the people and such is the nation before Me, says the Lord; and such is every work of their hands; and whatever they offer there is defiled. Why is this place (2:9) of the future temple and "there" (2:14) of the first temple singled out in these two verses?

Prophet Zechariah was a contemporary of Haggai and wrote (Zech 8:7.2) So said the Lord of Hosts: I am jealous for Zion with great jealousy, and with great fury I am jealous for her. I will return to Zion, and I will dwell in the midst of Jerusalem; and Jerusalem shall be called the city of truth, and the mount of the Lord of Hosts [shall be called] the holy mountain.

Zechariah's prophecy exposed God's jealously for Zion, Samuel's earlier prophecies and writings had declared Zion is the City of David. So, why is "this place", of Haggai's final temple distinguished from "there" of the first temple reconstruction - will they be the same place? Bible texts unequivocally state Zion is the city of David. However, the altar at the City of David is not at the location of King David's altar on the temple mount of the first and reconstructed (second) temple.

Lower Mount Moriah - City of David is Zion
The Temple Mount and City of David are different locations on Mount Moriah. Surely Zion defines "this place" as the location, the one to which God wants to return? We also know that God's presence, in the temple rests above the Ark (cover) of the Covenant and the above the Altar. Must God's presence in the final temple be at Zion, which is the City of David, the midst of Jerusalem and not "there" the place at which every offer is "defiled"? The tension that exists between these locations gives rise to Haggai's prophecy as he tries to warn the headstrong priests, but his few words fell on deaf ears and Zechariah's prophecy reinforced the momentum of Zrubavel's appointment and the ensuing ceremonial dedication.

Haggai and King Hezekiah encountered the skull of Aruvnah, both realized something about the altar of King David was not quite right. At these crucial moments neither was able to effect change, they succumbed to the status-quo, but for the final construction we will be more careful.








Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Jacob And His Trees


Covenant of Jacob - Standing Stone or Matzevah at Beit El, Bethel, Ancient Jerusalem

For 39 years the progenitor Israel lived with a gnawing frustration because the covenant he, as Jacob made at Beit El to build the House of God had not been fulfilled. Confounding events had distracted him from meeting his obligation.  After a successful 20 year exile he returned to his homeland to fulfill his covenant, but was delayed by the burden of his cattle, the idols his entourage carried, the rape of his daughter and massacre in revenge, the death of his mother, the death of his favored wife, the sale of his favored son Joseph into slavery, by his brothers and their living lie to Jacob.

Ultimately his family’s exile to Egypt, where they were finally reunified with Joseph must have been a bittersweet 17 year end to Jacob’s life. On his deathbed, he struggled to express the vision of his yet unfulfilled covenant, perhaps still hoping to motivate his children to fulfill it. Instead Jacob died hearing their acknowledgement that they too would unify their Creator and with that he bestowed his final blessings to them.

When you make a covenant with your one and only God, there is no escaping it. There is no other god who can cancel or adjust it, that constitution is expressed in the continuity of Jewish law. Jacob memorialized his covenant by setting and anointing a standing stone in Luz, which he renamed Beit El, that marked the place of his obligation. By his default, to build the House of God his unfulfilled covenant became the cornerstone of his nations indigenous memory.

The essential backstory to Jacobs yet unfulfilled covenant is less well known. Before his final exile to Egypt he gathered Acacia seeds, some say the Acacia trees that had originally been planted by Abraham and Jacob south of Jacob’s standing stone at Beit El. Nurturing these trees was Jacob’s contemplation, to provide the wood to construct and fulfill his covenant at the place Malchi-tzedek - High Priest of Salem had practiced, Abraham had offered his son Isaac as a sacrifice and Jacob had set his standing stone on Jerusalem’s Mount Moriah. When Jacob left the land of his inheritance, he took the Acacia seeds with him and, not to give up on his indigenous dream he planted them when they settled in Egypt.

210 years after Jacob’s exile his disenfranchised nation were thrust out of Egypt. Before departing some realized the contemplation of their forefather Jacob was about to come true. Tantalizingly, they anticipated returning to Mount Moriah, they felled the trees prepared the wood and took it from Egypt to be used to complete Jacob’s covenant and vision. But, Israel’s circuitous route back to their land took 40 more years. Along the journey Jacob’s trees were used to construct a temporary sanctuary to house the Ark of the Holy Covenant and offer sacrifices. The sanctuary was deconstructed and reconstructed at 42 locations before the nation was ready to arrive.

The seeds Jacob took with him did not merely provide wood, they also implanted a will, in the national psyche that had taken root with his family to fulfill his covenant. When they carried the wood out of Egypt into the desert to worship The God that had saved them from tyrant Pharaohs they were sentimentally expressing Jacobs Beit El contemplation. But, when Joshua finally led each of the tribes into battle to conquer their allotted land, there were two places he was unable to dislodge the occupant enemy. One was the territory of modern Gaza, which is the territory of Dan and the other Mount Moriah, which straddles territory on the southern boundary of Benjamin and northern boundary of Judah. Emorites and Jebusites had constructed massive fortifications on the eastern slope of Mount Moriah that concealed the bedrock, which in light of recent archaeology is Jacob’s Beit El to hide features of the earliest temple Israel’s ancestors had once developed and used.

It took another 300 years before King David mustered a small force that penetrated the fortification by scaling the water channel flowing out of the Gihon Spring and a bedrock fissure. The young Kings forces successfully occupied the lower section of Mount Moriah, but did not dislodge previous occupants of the mountain including the Jebusite King. King David recovered the Ark of the Holy Covenant that had been stolen by the Philistines of Gaza, but abandoned by them because of their superstitions. He temporarily housed it on the mountain until a permanent temple could be built. Progressively King David established Mount Moriah as his base for unifying the administration of justice over all Israel’s tribes.

During his tenure, the King struggled to find the Mount Moriah site that was destined for the altar of the permanent temple. The exact location was not obvious, but the prerequisite, by Jewish law had to be akeida - the site of the binding of Isaac. Despite all of his efforts, he was unable to locate it. Toward the end of his life, under political pressure for his moral ineptitude he dispatched his loyal general on an ill fated census of the nation. A plague ravaged the nations north killing 70,000, as it approached Jerusalem the King witnessed the angel of death standing on Mount Moriah with its sword drawn over the lower slope, which was Jerusalem at that time. The nations prophet declared the site suitable for an altar. King David who publicly sought forgiveness and the tribal leaders whose tribes were being ravaged, purchased the site from the Jebusite King. King David brought his sacrifices and the plague stopped. The event that unified the tribes was soon forgotten, but the location of the Kings altar was not. Finally King David’s blueprint, for the construction of Jerusalem’s first permanent temple were completed and made ready for his son King Solomon to construct.

Notwithstanding the joyful pomp and ceremony at the inauguration of Jerusalem’s first permanent temple, Jacob’s Beit El location had been lost. It was inadvertently re-discovered by King Hezekiah’s builders during his Gihon Spring tunnel reconstruction, but it was quickly and perfectly re-buried and preserved. It was rediscovered by Eli Shukron, in the City of David on the eastern slope of Mount Moriah 3533 after Jacob’s exile in 2010.

Sunday, December 23, 2018

The long search

The Bible recounts that moments before Jacob’s death he invoked his redeeming angel (Vayechi 48:16) and blessed Joseph’s sons, his grandsons Efraim and Menashe. He adopted them and in doing so bestowed the double blessing on Joseph, first born to his first love, wife Rachel.

The Zohar asks - why did they deserve to be blessed? And answers because Joseph preserved the sign of the holy covenant by not allowing himself to be seduced (by evil). The mystery of faith is a covenant with My chosen (righteous) one [1:231a] alluding to King David. He finds pleasure together with the souls of the righteous (Israel) and will not enter Jerusalem below until Israel enters the city. The world was not created until He took a certain stone -Foundation Stone, central point of the whole world. That stone, I set up as a pillar (matzevah) to be a house of God (Genesis 28:22). I am sending an angel before you. 



Jacob took 12 stones of that place and they become one

(Vayechi 49:1) Jacob called for his sons and said, "Gather and I will tell you what will happen to you at the end of days". [1:234b] "Gather" - that I may tell you - "Ve-agidah", the mystery of wisdom! Why the mystery of wisdom? Because the word contains (g)imel followed by (d)alet, though sometimes (y)ud intervenes. He sought to reveal Israel's future, but his end of days vision dwindled.  

Jacob was about to reveal that his stone-pillar would locate the permanent temple he had committed to build, but he couldn't explain what he saw. How do we know this? Because the non-incidental prophet Gad, also spelled (g)imel (d)alet connected him to this same mystery of wisdom. Some 670 years after Jacob, Gad authorized King David and all Israel's tribal leaders to locate an altar, on Mount Moriah at a different place than the place Jacob erected his stone-pillar. This confronting fact disturbed Jacob's vision.

The deeper mystery connected Efraim and brother Menashe to the northern tribes, collectively named Israel. They vehemently resisted re-locating the temporary temple from Shilo in Efraim's territory, where it had been abandoned to Jerusalem on the southern border of Benjamin's territory with Judah. When a plague killed 70,000 northern Israelite's a short-lived reprieve led them to unify and accept Gad's prophetic house of God relocation from the neck to the head of Mount Moriah.

Rivalry between Judah and Joseph (Efraim) over Benjamin would eventually lead to the destruction of two temples at Gad's location. Jacob saw beyond these destruction's, but the perpetual denial by Joseph and his brothers, including their silencing Benjamin about their kidnapping and selling Joseph disturbed Jacob's foretelling.

In 2008 the Hebrew year 5768, Jacob's stone-pillar was rediscovered at its location on Mount Moriah. It had been purposely buried, preserved for more than 3700 years. This time there will be no destruction.






Wednesday, November 7, 2018

The Place Jacob Stumbled and Became Israel

Of 79,847 words in the Hebrew Bible "va-yi[ph][g]ah" is used once to describe the manner in which Jacob came to a certain "place". It is also used once in the Book of Samuel and three times in the first book of Kings. In the latter books it verbalizes the murder of priests and retribution against a traitor. So, how does the murder of priests by Do'eg, who became King David's conniving, ruthless teacher and retribution metered by Ben'ayahu ben Yehoiada, for the King relate to Jacob's experience at the place?

The verb "[ph]-[g]ah" means to encounter, meet or reach, perhaps encounter (as in strike down) can relate to killing or murder. However, because a softer verb was not chosen commentators interpret this long memory, encoded into the Bible's Hebrew words as if Jacob came upon, fell upon, collided with, or stumbled onto the place.

Regular readers of this blog will know my view that the standing stone or matzevah in ancient Jerusalem's temple zero complex (see image below) is the one Jacob erected the morning after his "va-yi[ph][g]ah" experience which was followed, that night by his famous 'stairway-to-heaven' dream.

Four room temple complex on Upper Ridge above the Gihon Spring
Of the four rooms discovered in the temple complex, on the eastern face of Mount Moriah the bedrock at the western end of room 2 drops to a low point around 1 meter above the ground. This apparently natural feature outlined in red and immediately further west in green (in the images below) illustrates the fall of bedrock toward the ground level bedrock. The standing stone (also in the images below) is not depicted in room 2 (above) to illustrate that it was erected on top of the ground level bedrock well after this temple complex had already been constructed.


Looking west into Room 2 

Only the raised bedrock platform at the rear (west) end of room 3 was purposely left in place when the original constructors shaped the bedrock into these four rooms. The image (below) of room 3 bedrock floor contrasts the liquids channel (left of image) carved into the bedrock floor from retained (top rear) raised altar platform. This serves to emphasize the purpose of the construction as a temple complex from the outset.

Room 3 altar platform left in place when rooms bedrock was removed to shape rooms

The man-made-wall in the background, west of the green outlined bedrock (below) was dated to the time of King Hezekiah by various archaeologists. Around 1000 years earlier, toward the end of the middle Bronze Age the man-made-wall did not exist, but the bedrock features of rooms 1,2,3 and 4 did. We know that because pottery artifacts discovered in passages immediately east and north of these rooms are dated to the middle bronze age and chisel markings are indicative of that time. 

Matzevah or standing stone at the rear, west end of room 2
Further west of the man-made-wall bedrock continues under the wall, as seen in the image below. In the middle Bronze Age, before the man-made-wall was built bedrock access to and from the west of the temple complex would have been a more gentle access route. The grade of the east facing slope seen in the following image supports the idea of gradual access.


The man-made-wall  (City Wall in image below) approximately demonstrates the relative position of the four room temple complex on the Upper ridge in context to the City Wall at the site of the excavations. It also illustrates the proximity of the Upper Ridge temple complex to the water of the Gihon Spring in the Kidron Valley below.



For those who are familiar with the Bible story of Jacob: On the run from his brother, Jacob made his way to Mount Moriah (Genesis 28:11), the holy place of his ancestors where his father was once offered as a sacrifice by his grandfather whose homeland Jacob was about to leave behind. When the sun set he stumbled upon the bedrock and fell into room 2 of the temple complex. That night he packed stones around his head, which he took from room 3 and exhausted he fell asleep. In the morning when he awoke, he erected the stone and anointed it (Genesis 28:18) and after twenty years in exile he returned back to it (Genesis 35:14). I maintain that this is the place Jacob was seeking and this is the place Israel is still seeking, perhaps one day we will find it!

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Myopic Archaeological Reporting

A major disagreement between archaeological giants over a 2008 discovery at the City of David, Jerusalem remains unresolved. The modern equivalents of Macalister and Duncan, Reich and Shukron, who excavated sections of the lower and upper ridges near the Gihon Spring remain ~1000 years apart in their time estimates for a critically important upper ridge discovery. By professional standards its a serious issue that could eventually backfire on Israel's Antiquities Authority.

Its not unusual for archaeologists to challenge each other with evidence based theories including at  the Gihon Spring. Recently Dr. Joe Uziel discovered evidence that presented a similar time conflict. Under the north-eastern corner stone of the Bronze age citadel construction adjacent to the Gihon Spring, seeds were carbon dated by Weizmann Institute to the Iron age. The seeds were presumed to be in their original location, but if they had been washed under the corner stone, in a prior rain-storm the arguments over Iron or Bronze age dating would be futile. 

To elucidate the futility, myopic archaeological reporting is often contained to single fragments of evidence that draw inferences absent of broader context discoveries found in proximity. For example Jerusalem's oldest constructed cave was probably a mansion carved into the east face of Mount Moriah, south of the upper Gihon Pool. 

Parker and Vincent Excavation ~1910
Early Bronze Age Cave (2018)

Further up the eastern face, a tomb containing ~4000 year old sophisticated tomb pottery was discovered by Parker-Vincent. Importantly this early Bronze Age tomb pottery dates Mount Moriah's first permanent population to a similar time in which the cave home on the eastern face would have been in use.

From Ronny Reich's book - Excavating the City of David: Where Jerusalem's History Began

The Pottery Artifacts from the Rockefeller Museum in Jerusalem
Direct evidence does not link the tomb pottery to the cave, but both were sophisticated developments of that time. The cave would have been constructed by skilled laborers and the pottery by refined artisans indicating the importance of the individuals to whom these discoveries were once attributed. Leading archaeologist Hillel Geva made it clear that Mount Moriah was sparsely populated until much later periods when permanent construction on the mountain expanded from around 3800 years ago, around the time of Biblical Abraham.

One of the most compelling observations echos a ziggurat like stairway the lower sections having been partly reassembled with steel staircase. Immediately adjacent, north of the cave, the base of the stairway was once quarried in sloping bedrock, but today it is a sheer-rock-cut-face that reshaped the natural slope of the bedrock to displace or destroy the arrangements that once provided gradual stepped-access from lower to upper ridge.

Stairway view bottom to top (looking west)
Stairway view top to bottom (looking east) - see video below


The slope may have first been reshaped to include steps for easier access on the ~30 meter rise (see profile image below) from the lower rock shelf, at the cave's natural entrance to the stairs leading to the high ridge. Interestingly, the lower section of stairs would have once landed on the east face of Mount Moriah, as it falls to the Kidron Valley, but the dramatic absence at the now sheer-rock-cut-face appears related to the quarrying that ultimately formed the large impassable void of the Upper Gihon Pool (see image below).

Profile slice through Mount Moriah looking north.
In 2008 Eli Shukron broke through a false wall on the upper ridge and discovered that the stairway led directly to a sacrificial altar of a significant pre-Solomon temple complex. Soft sand filled the entire upper ridge spaces between the false wall on the east (side of Kidron Valley) and the western bedrock, below the city wall. Thousands of years before Eli's breakthrough, the temple complex had been cleaned of artifacts and purposefully buried, a fact that has not been officially revealed. Below, the four numbered rooms, notably #1 and #3 have short passages connecting these rooms with the upper section of the ridge as it makes its way higher and to the west.



On the eastern bedrock, below the temple complex middle Bronze Age artifacts were discovered by Shukron and previous archaeologists, but several rooms built against the city wall (see image above) contained artifacts that were dated to the Iron Age.


The image above illustrates how access through the rear passage of room #1 of the temple complex led to the bedrock behind the wall. When the temple complex was excavated, several Iron Age artifacts were found in the passages and caused Ronny Reich to firmly date the temple complex to the Iron Age. However, it is evident these artifacts could have moved. The basement of the Iron Age rooms (above image) terminated on the bedrock as it descends east and like so many cavernous basements in and around the old city of Jerusalem the contents on the bedrock found the tunnel of room #1 where the Iron Age contents of the house slipped into and filled the space of the tunnel. 

Based on the above,the definitive statements by Ronny Reich, as seen in the video below would therefore be an example of myopic archaeology. Eli Shukron has made public statements that the temple complex is a Bronze Age construct in direct opposition. 

I'll leave it to you the reader to decide, which version is more likely just keep in mind that the standing stone or matzevah in room #2 (seen below) is most likely a relic from 3800 years ago, the the time of Israel's Biblical fathers, as such it is more likely to fit the context that supports the narrative of Eli Shukron.

Room #2 matzevah or standing stone is not a grave marker

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Jerusalem's 'Temple Zero' Predicament!


The southern room - animal processing and grain press
The lead archaeologist says its Middle Bronze Age, but the tour guides say Iron Age and the City of David is silent? For the uninitiated that’s an impossible gap of 600 years!

In 2011 lead archaeologist Eli Shukron discovered 4 hidden bedrock rooms preserved by a false wall. They feature an altar, a grain press, an oil press and a stone monument known as a matzevah. Small loops chiseled in bedrock corners were once used to tie small animals before they were sacrificed. He openly attributes the rooms to MalchiTzedek’s Shalem, but the matzevah he unwittingly says cannot be Jacob's because"...we're talking about Jerusalem...” (See the video @7:40).

The matzevah of Jacob
This is where Eli and I diverge. Jacob’s matzevah was erected at a place he called Beit El, which according to the clearest geophysical reference in the bible (2Kings 23:4) is on eastern face, on the southern end of Mount Moriah, Jerusalem. Exactly at the location in this blog-post! Eli falls victim to the confusing arguments promoted by Jeroboam after King Solomon built the first temple at its alternative location on Mount Moriah.

The ramifications of Eli's statements strengthen me to overcome ignorance, which I justify because archaeologists are not biblical scholars nor the alternative. Who can blame them? However, the City of David has a far greater responsibility to reveal facts. Jerusalem's "temple zero" predates King David so why didn't he identify these rooms as the location at which his son Solomon would  build the first temple further up the mountain?

If you're fortunate enough to visit this place, tour guides may tell you King David built it to house the Ark of the Covenant during the 37 years before the first temple was built. Or that the rooms already existed so he brought the Ark here to rest and this is where he built a tent to house it. But, nothing in their explanation addresses why King David would permit a matzevah, a practice abolished in the bible ~350 years before him. Worse, they won't tell you of the Middle Bronze Age evidence that predates King David to Jacob, Isaac, Abraham and MalchiTzedek. They promote confusion by saying things that are not helpful to absolving ignorance.

The simplest answer is that King David never found these four rooms. However, someone after him, in the mid-late Iron Age did because Middle Bronze Age evidence was found in the area surrounding these rooms, but the rooms had been filled with soft sand, preserved and cleared of Middle Bronze Age evidence.

I've written extensively about these rooms, you can explore my blog for more, but Jerusalem's Temple Zero predicament challenges interpretations of Jewish law and tradition that preceded King David. Fundamentally, if this is Jacob's Beit El then established ancient traditions also declare it to be the site of the future, final temple, which competes with present views and raises questions that may be too hard for people to answer.