Monday, July 24, 2017

A Path to Jerusalem's Temple

The persistent divergence that plagued the nation motivated King David to write psalm 127:
If the Lord does not build a house, its builders labor in vain
For the uninitiated, “Lord” arose through the collective behavior of the unified nation of Israel whose builders accomplished God’s work and constructed the nation’s temple in Jerusalem.

Today the accomplishment of such a task requires our common understanding of this critical line from psalm 127. Because the sentence commences ‘if’, I have interpreted it to mean that man must begin, but the build will be in vain “if the Lord does not build”.

What then is required to ensure  building the third and final temple is not in vain?
Belief in collective purpose, national identity, indigenous past, the task ahead and confidence to achieve it. A big ask for a presently disparate nation, but one that has a prescribed, mature set of guidelines for building it and believing in God that builds it. According to Jewish teachings there is no conflict between the two ideas, nor does there have to be.

I understand  many people are unaware of the detailed legal and spiritual construct defining the process, so they may be overwhelmed. Therefore, I will attempt to write this with deference to the defined process and bridge it to the present state of Israel’s reality.

The emotive desire to build a temple is often expressed to satisfy individuals who yearn for it. Sometimes the exuberance so strong that law, process and the journey to its realization is momentarily set aside. The national disciplines required to open the window of real opportunity is enormous, but divergent views, among Jews constantly make the task appear impossible.

How could it be that a body of 71 holy men can establish the global authority they require in order to appoint a Jewish king in modern Israel and build a temple? This is prerequisite, it cannot be changed. It’s made more complicated because a prophet must emerge and identify the physical location of the altar on which Isaac was once bound by his father Abraham. No other location will suffice for the third and final temple, the altar must be at the precise spot.

Shifting demographics in Israel indicate it is fast becoming a more religions society, any Israeli, will acknowledge this fact. Logically more people in Israel are becoming tolerant of traditional Jewish law on which these precepts are established. Israel’s communities have three forms of representation in their electoral system; a) City b) National and c) Religious. The first two are obvious to anyone who lives in a system by representation, but most are unaware of the religious representation afforded to them by Israel’s electoral process.

Religious representation is afforded from a strange blend of socialism and democracy. Rabbis nominated by communities of a city are selected by Mayors of the City and the Religious Minister. The electoral process is a messy, competitive confluence, but for the most part it works. If a city is liberal or conservative they nominate a slate of representative nominees from which the Mayoral and Religious ministry selections takes place.

The Rabbi’s are elected for life, they retire at 70 and are replaced if they misbehave, resign, retire or pass-on. Every four years there are always a few cities who vie for electoral renewal and the battle for representation is fierce. These Rabbi’s are distinct from the Chief Rabbi’s of Israel who endure a separate election process, but the City or Town Rabbi’s as they are known, constitute a powerful body and among them many individuals stand out.

These representative Rabbi’s hold with them the capacity to demand improving representations on behalf of the communities that elected them. I am a proponent of this existing electoral college and encourage its Rabbis to demand improved representation rights in the national government. The blend of socialism and democracy is well suited to Israel and balanced when well integrated with religious representation. It is from this group I hope Israel’s House of Lords will be formed.

Progression toward this objective will only take place by improving the quality of Rabbi’s and by the entire body being emboldened by the communities that elected them. Once empowered at the national level, they will form a sovereign religious body that is capable of being authoritative on a global scale. As a properly constituted Sanhedrin they will proceed to unify the bodied of religious and secular law and unify national identity.  

This modern, indigenous, representative body can then proceed to empower the nation, appoint a King consent to the prophet and finally complete the house that Jacob promised to build.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Will Jerusalem Proof Be Enough?

If the high ridge above the Gihon Spring was visited by important foreign statesmen more than 4000 years ago, before any city or walls existed it would establish a question for archaeologists: What compelled them to come? The recently discovered chiseled bedrock confirmed that holy practices were once carried out on the high ridge (see last image below), but the time of construction is unknown . Although it was certainly built before the advent of iron instruments, construction could have occurred from circa 3000 years and prior.

Lets hypothetically argue an ancient seal, dated back more than 4000 years was discovered in the immediate layers of earth west and adjacent to the high ridge bedrock. Untouched for thousands of years its location in the chronologically intact layers would infer proof the seal was encased around the time of its last use or placed there at some later stage, but no later than when dust first covered the seal over.

During the past 4 years, excavation at the high ridge removed at least 4 meters from the previous ground level, hundreds of thousands of cubic feet of earth. Each layer has been carefully sifted for objects in the chronological order the earth was deposited.

After the first few months the ground floor was at our head heights

In upper-later layers only plastic, rubber, garbage

Getting interesting in the lower-Iron Age layers

The artifact hoard begins to grow...

Excavating behind the separation wall to the high ridge bedrock below our feet!
The high ridge excavation in the above image started under Eli Shukron around 2008. Surprisingly the construct of the high ridge identified it was once used for holy sacrifices. But, it remains unknown whether or how long prior to King David's occupation of the City, this site was in use. One of the ways to investigate, was to excavate behind the "Separation Wall" (image above) that divides the high ridge east-west, to see if any newly discovered artifacts would be informative.

The hoard of artifacts from the western excavation has already begun to reveal that 1.5-2m above the bedrock once homes were once occupied by residents who cooked kosher style foods. Olive seeds, grape pips and other items have been sent for radio-carbon dating, we await results. Slightly north of the high ridge, a large potters kiln fired pots which were used by occupants of the city to store food, oil and wine. Other discoveries identify the kiln may have been operated for Kings, because some of the clay jar handles are embossed with royal seals. Clay seals used to validate confidentiality of documents have also been discovered. These items now date back to the period of Kings and perhaps even back to the time of King David.

As archaeologists begin to reach layers in the last 0.50 cm above bedrock to the west, things are expected to hot up. They will finally gain access through the two doorways or entrances (image above) to the bedrock beyond. If discoveries there identify with leaders who lived more than 4000 years ago it will establish that this site, well before King David, the walled city, Joshua, Jacob, Isaac or Abraham was important enough for noblemen to visit.

Should we be blessed to obtain such proof, we will be able to piece together the chronological development of the site in context of the Jewish exegesis. From that we may discover that Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joshua and David revered it. Before Abraham perhaps even Shem-Malchitzedek, the righteous king received dignitaries who may have left their mark in Salem. With this context, we would truly appreciate why the matzevah (massebah) remains standing at this site as a beacon pointing to the place Jacob slept when he dreamed of stairs on which angels ascended between earth and heaven.

Matzevah - perhaps the stone Jacob erected, and anointed as his covenant